KL BOW OUT OF FA CUP WITH HEADS HELD HIGH AFTER FEISTY DERBY CLASH
A feisty Klang Valley derby was decided by a single goal in the second half as Selangor edged Kuala Lumpur City to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup at the Petaling Jaya Stadium on Friday.
Substitute Aliff Haiqal Lokman Hakim Lau struck in the 62nd minute for Selangor to take the second round tie 1-0 and end a run of five matches without a win in the derby against Malaysia Cup champions Kuala Lumpur.
Selangor will travel to Kota Kinabalu to face Sabah in the last-eight on July 23 while Kuala Lumpur prepares to face Petaling Jaya City next in Super League action on July 16.
Missing several players through injury, Kuala Lumpur suffered a further blow when captain Paulo Josue had to go off five minutes before half-time in a match that saw Jordan Mintah make his debut for the City Boys after arriving on loan from Terengganu.
For the 85th Klang Valley derby, Kuala Lumpur coach Bojan Hodak had to make do without winger J. Partiban (groin), Kenny Pallraj (hamstring), Nik Umar Nik Aziz (sprain), Nabil Hakim Bokhari and Haqimi Azim Rosli (international duty).
Muhammad Mohd Fauzi made just his second start this season as he partnered Giancarlo Gallifuoco for the first time which meant Irfan Zakaria continued to deputise at left-back. Ryan Lambert and Akram Mahinan retained their places in midfield from the previous outing, a 2-1 win over Tampines Rovers in the AFC Cup.
Mintah’s inclusion as the new centre-forward meant Romal Morales was deployed on the right while Zhafri Yahya was shifted to the left flank in an unaccustomed position.
Selangor was boosted by the return of forward Hyuri Henrique and centre-back Sharul Nazeem Zulpakar from suspension with the latter giving an assured performance in handling Mintah.
The match burst to life very early as Selangor’s Herlison Caion headed the ball in from a corner-kick after four minutes but it was ruled out for a push on Gallifuoco before Kevin Mendoza comfortably fielded Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi’s shot from outside the box.
An opportunity presented itself in the 18th minute when a long ball out of defence was headed away by Selangor goalkeeper Sam Somerville from outside the box as Mintah and Sharul Nazeem collided but Zhafri fired the loose ball over from distance as Somerville scrambled back into position.
The fiery encounter saw three Selangor players booked in the first 25 minutes including Quentin Cheng for an off-the-ball push on Irfan, Yazan Al-Arab for bringing down Mintah when the striker was in a good position and Brendan Gan for dissent.
Kuala Lumpur suffered a blow when Josue had to go off after injuring himself in the 35th minute when attempting a shot on goal. Hadin Azman came on, which forced a reshuffle as Morales took over Josue’s position while Zhafri switched to the right to accommodate Hadin on the left.
A last-ditch tackle by Gallifuoco on Caion early in the second half after Irfan gave the ball away stopped Selangor in their tracks but the breakthrough arrived in the 62nd minute just after both teams made changes.
Fakrul Aiman Sidid replaced Ryan Lambert but it was Selangor substitute Aliff Haiqal who made the immediate impact after coming on for Hein Htet Aung.
Norhakim Hassan headed a long ball past Muhammad and as Gallifuoco leaned in on Caion, the Selangor striker collided with a retreating Muhammad who fell and which allowed the ball to break free to Aliff Haiqal, who made no mistake from close range to beat Kevin Mendoza.
Kuala Lumpur quickly went in search of the equaliser with Mintah pulled up for offside as he fired hard at Somerville before the goalkeeper denied the Ghanaian striker with a fine save after Mintah turned a defender before his left-footed shot was clawed away single-handedly by Somerville.
Gallifuoco rode to Kuala Lumpur’s rescue once more when he stopped Caion from crossing the ball into the box as Selangor broke forward with a potential two-on-one in the works.
With time running out, Mintah had a go at Somerville with a free-kick that was aimed directly at the goalkeeper before Hodak sent on Declan Lambert and Arif Shaqirin Suhaimi for Muhammad and Zhafri respectively.
As the match headed into added-on time, Kuala Lumpur earned a series of corner-kicks and very nearly forced the equaliser. From the third corner for which even Mendoza went up for, Mintah directed the ball goalwards with his foot but Somerville stuck out a hand to punch the ball clear.
A mad scramble formed in the box with Mendoza in the thick of things as Gallifuoco’s attempt bounced back off the melee before Shaqirin volleyed over from the rebound as Kuala Lumpur’s best chance went begging.
Selangor v Kuala Lumpur City: 1 Mendoza (GK), 4 Kamal Azizi, 33 Muhammad (12 Declan 88′), 9 Gallifuoco, 17 Irfan, 14 Akram, 6 Ryan (30 Fakrul Aiman 61′), 7 Morales, 8 Zhafri (29 Arif Shaqirin 88′), 28 Paulo Josue (C) (27 Hadin 39′), 82 Mintah
Subs Not Used: 44 Azri (GK), 5 Nik Shahrul, 10 Safee, 25 Anwar, 88 Ridhwan
Referees: Hamdan Awang; Assistant 1: Shafiq Ahmad Said; Assistant 2: Junaidy Abd Samad; Fourth official: Zamzaidi Katimin
OUR HERO OF THE MATCH: GIANCARLO GALLIFUOCO
With Kenny Pallraj out injured and Irfan Zakaria playing in a left-back position, Gallifuoco ensured his new partner Muhammad was as comfortable as possible with the pair marking out Selangor’s Herlison Caion, who scored twice in the first derby this season, and Hyuri Henrique.
The Australian defender also made two crucial plays in the second half when Selangor broke and looked dangerously close to scoring, saving Kuala Lumpur each time. But for a mad scramble in the Selangor box, Gallifuoco could even have scored the equaliser late in the match.