Kuala Lumpur City regained fifth position in the Super League standings after momentarily dropping to sixth the night before, following a 2-0 win over Sri Pahang on Sunday in trying conditions with goals in each half from 19 year-old striker Haqimi and Zhafri, who began the fixture as skipper.


In a short and sweet post-match press conference, head coach Bojan was pleased with a job well done from the City Boys, coming hot on the heels of success in reaching the AFC Cup 2022 East Region final (aka Inter Zone final) last Wednesday, after beating India’s ATK Mohun Bagan, 3-1 in Kolkata.  


Victory over the Elephants, extended our unbeaten run to six matches consisting of four wins and two draws, but the Croatian was not about to let our recent achievements go to his head. 


“(It was) important for us that we won this.  (Yes) we are a little tired (from our travels to India and here) and it was a very heavy field because of (it being) water(logged).  Players on both sides could not really play, it was more running and kicking long balls.  But then the second half was slightly better.  We basically just block(ed) them and then we wait(ed) for the (opportunity to strike at) counter attacks and one of these chances was successful”, he said.  


The 50-year old also expressed satisfaction on how his boys are performing on the field as the team heads into the business end of the league season, especially before we begin the defence of our Malaysia Cup title.  


“I’m (now) happy with how the team plays.  We had a few more chances (in the second half).  Defensively (it) was okay.  What was most important was the 3 points, we (now) focus on the next game.”


Bojan who led Malaysia to their first ever ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 title in 2018 during his stint as head coach from 2017 to 2019, also singled out Hakimi’s contribution during the game, lavishing praise on the youngster, who only this year broke through into Young Tigers squad that won the U-19 AFF title last July in Jakarta, Indonesia.   


“I’m especially happy with Hakimi.  This is (only) his second start of the season (after eight substitute appearances this year) and he really used the space well (in this match).  We asked him to run in(to) space, he used his speed (to great effect).  He actually could (have) scored 1 or 2 more goals but I think it’ll be very important for his development, for his confidence, that he scored his first senior goal (today in the 31st minute, before making way for Paulo Josue at the break).”  


Bojan was also asked why we kept launching the ball up from the back, a rather stark change from our approach compared to recent matches.


“Because if you allow (the) ball to bounce on this field, (the) ball will speed up and this is a problem for any defence.  Pahang also pushed (their line) very high up and this is what created space for Hakimi and Jordan (in the second half) to take advantage of.” 


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