HODAK: WE MADE THE BEST OF TRYING CIRCUMSTANCES
With so many players unavailable, Bojan Hodak could not have expected anything different but a battling display by Kuala Lumpur City in grinding out a 0-0 draw with Petaling Jaya City.
The point enabled Kuala Lumpur to reach the halfway stage of the Super League campaign with a third cleansheet and 14 points from 11 games.
But the bigger satisfaction for Hodak was how his side went about their business despite playing with an unrecognised midfield with six key players out for various reasons.
In Paulo Josue’s absence through a groin injury, Irfan Zakaria captained the team which was also missing Ryan Lambert, Akram Mahinan, Kenny Pallraj, J. Partiban and Kamal Azizi Zabri.
“Before the game, I explained what would happen and that’s how it was,” said Hodak. “PJ City are a very hard-working team, they don’t allow you to play. We were missing too many players, up to six players, and the entire midfield.
“So this was the difference for today’s game. We had a few chances but did not score and after that, we needed to defend. The problem is from the bench we needed somebody to give back something in the game like their subs made an impact in the game, but our subs didn’t.
“I think it’s a fair result, we maybe had more chances but in the end, you must always respect the opponent.
“I think it’s a fair result, we maybe had more chances but in the end, you must always respect the opponent.”
Hodak’s lack of options was encapsulated by the fact that he gave senior team debuts to three players off the bench including a pair of Under-21 players in Ilham Syukri and Iman Fakrullah Zamri as well as Ridhwan Nazri.
“A few guys had never played for the club before including the two boys who came in and played for the first time for the first team today,” said Hodak, explaining that his forwards Jordan Mintah and Romel Morales were also under the weather.
“Both Romel and Jordan were sick and I was not sure whether they could play. I respect the effort, they tried to play for the team.
“Since the whole midfield was missing, it was a completely different team. The way we played was different.”
With the Klang Valley derby against Selangor up next on Wednesday for the second time this month, Hodak hopes the situation with the team will improve.
“When you are missing players, this is something that is out of my hands. Akram and Kamal will be back for the next game and that will help,” he said.
“For the younger guys who got minutes, it will be good for their confidence in the future. Defensively we were not bad. In the first three games this season we conceded nine goals. But in the next 12 matches, we conceded 10 goals. Now we are defensively settled but in attack, we are missing Paulo’s final pass.”
PJ City coach P. Maniam, who made 31 appearances for Kuala Lumpur in 1997, could not fault his players for failing to score against the Malaysia Cup champions.
“We didn’t lose possession a lot, created chances but did not score,” he said. “KL had chances on the counter but we are happy with the performance of the players and their 100 percent commitment.”