Kuala Lumpur City began the campaign to defend their Malaysia Cup on the right foot when they swept passed Premier League side Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM), 3-0, in a rare visit to the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Cheras as the away side during the first leg of their Round of 16 encounter.


For only the second time this season after experiencing the same through their debut in the AFC Cup against PSM Makassar last June, the City Boys were made to use the visitors changing rooms at their stomping ground.  While it may have been an unfamiliar setting for their pre-match rituals, there was no stopping the Red And White’s on the all too familiar pitch in Cheras, as two goals from Romel around skipper Paulo Josue’s strike gave them a three goal cushion to take into the return leg at the same venue in four days time. 


Addressing the members of the media in his post match press conference, headcoach Bojan was all smiles again after his team snapped the poor run of 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 they previously only managed a goal in the 4 matches against Al Seeb, Petaling Jaya City, Terengganu and Sogdiana Jizzakh.


“I’m pleased with the result (though) I’m not pleased with the performance. I’m always never (too) happy with (the) performance, (but) three nil (is a) good result, good for (our) confidence, good that we win (won and) good that we didn’t concede a goal,” he began when asked for his opinion on the game.


“Defensively more or less (it) was okay except in 2 (or) 3 situations.  Attacking wise we need to improve, (yet) again (the) problem was finishing.  We (seem to) complicate things a  little bit when we arrive at the final third (of the pitch).  We need to be simpler and I think there is (are a) few players (who) didn’t play for a long time maybe (this is the reason but) it was good that they (now) have game (time) and we will focus again (for the return leg) in 4 days.  (Once) again, I will probably mix (it up) a little bit (on the) team (selection),” he added.


The mastermind of last season’s Malaysia Cup triumph made 6 changes to the starting line-up that featured in the AFC Cup final, giving Azri G only his second appearance in the domestic scene this season, while Muhammad, Anwar, Hadin, Haqimi and Jordan were presented with opportunities from the start.  Bojan was asked if those changes caused the City Boys’ slow start to the game.


“You must understand, four days ago we played (in the) AFC Cup final.  And now from a match like that we’re coming (from), with all due respect to PDRM, to meet a team from (the) second division.  Of course (for) some of the players (this isn’t ideal).  I need hungry players, the guys that I put I’m giving them chance, they were trying their best but you can see some of them maybe didn’t play for a long time so this is maybe where final touch was not there.”


The 51-year old also responded to suggestions of the City Boys over reliance on the Latino connection of skipper Paulo Josue and Romel in the goal scoring department, after they both came of the bench to make a difference once again, the Colombian’s brace pushing his season tally to 9, while the Brazilian leads with 13 goals.


“Look they are strikers, they need to score goals.  It’s normal for them.  You know how it is with strikers, once when they start scoring, they cannot stop.  So it’s really good for (their) confidence.  Strikers are special players because for them, sometimes they cannot score like you (can) see Jordan now, (how) he’s getting the chances but not scoring.   I told him as long as you keep getting chances, all is okay.  Goal(s) will come.”


Jordan, who has found the back of the net only 4 times in 15 matches since arriving on loan from Terengganu at the end of June 2022, was also singled out for concern on his well being after spurning numerous opportunities to score today.  


In a nutshell, Bojan attributed the Ghanaian’s lack of prolificacy in front of goal to any striker’s biggest fear. 


“This is confidence (or the lack of it). I hope that (in the) next game he will score, so (his) confidence will come back.”


Finally, Bojan hinted that he would be make additional changes in his team for the return leg on Thursday.


“I need to give maybe 2, 3 more players to start (the next) game.  This will help us with (a) bigger pool of players later on.”


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