Fast forward two days from the events that unfolded at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last Saturday, when Al Seeb Club of Oman inflicted a humbling 3-0 defeat upon Kuala Lumpur City in front of 27,722 supporters in the AFC Cup 2022 final, it was back at the training ground for the City Boys as they began preparation for the defence of their Malaysia Cup title, the first hurdle of the opening round this Thursday in the form of Premier League outfit Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM), their fellow tenants at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Cheras.
Expectedly the mood at the Pudu Ulu ground was sombre as the city slickers reflected upon the ‘what if’s’ that occurred throughout the match while going through their paces of a very dull session.
Headcoach Bojan, who has had quite a few heartaches of losing finals under his belt at his previous port of calls, though none as more wrenching than the continents second most important club tournament, was nevertheless proud of his team’s dreamy run to the final that included victories at home over Singapore’s Tampines Rovers and Indonesia’s PSM Makassar, as well as wins in Vietnam (Viettel), India (ATK Mohun Bagan) and Uzbekistan (PFC Sogdiana). In between all that, despite the trophy eluding them on the final day of competition, they still earned bragging rights for being crowned the AFC Cup 2022 East Asian champions as well as the ASEAN Zonal winners, a fact that he hopes is not lost upon his charges as he seeks to prepare them for the next chapter in this memorable season.
“We now shift our focus to the Malaysia Cup Round of 16 match against Police (PDRM) on Thursday. My main focus now is to get the players ready for the match. The worry is how to lift the spirits of the players after the AFC Cup disappointment. It’s tough to motivate the players after losing a final but I want to help them regain that special magic and spirit that brought us the Malaysia Cup last year and the run to the AFC Cup final. We have to bounce back,” said the Croatian to journalists from Sinar Harian, Harian Metro, the New Straits Times and The Star.
The 51-year old also indicated that the change in the Malaysia Cup format to a purely knockout tournament from the get go as opposed to the tried and tested method since 1990, does not leave too much room for errors. He also suggested that he may provide some opportunities to the lesser used players in a bid to inject fresh enthusiasm in the squad, while singling out young striker Hakimi for special praise.
“We need to prepare well from the start as there is no group stage this time as the cup competition will be played on a knockout format from the start. Maybe we’ll look to make some changes to freshen things up but it will not be easy as we have to be mindful not to underestimate Police (PDRM).”
“I gave Hakimi a 20-minute runout during the AFC Cup final. He is a striker with plenty of potential. He’s only 19, he has a bright future.”
Bojan also added that he was looking forward to the match against PDRM, as the Red And White’s seek regain their winning ways after three consecutive losses (Al Seeb, Petaling Jaya City & Terengganu) that has not been seen since 2019, apart from ending a dry spell in front of goal where we have only scored once in the past 4 matches (Al Seeb, PJC, Terengganu, Sogdiana) while conceding six.
“I hope it will be a good match. It will show how we react after that loss.”
The Malaysia Cup Match Day 1 fixture between Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) and Kuala Lumpur City is on Thursday, October 27, 2022, at 9PM (2100hrs) at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium, Cheras.
Tickets for the Super League match against Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) are available at the following link, https://www.tickethotline.com.my/
For Season Ticket Holders (B2 City Boys), enjoy direct access for purchase through the Club without the hassle and limitations of the online system (Contact Shamim for details).