BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Selangor produced one of their finest performances this season, to overturn a 1-0 first leg Malaysia Cup quarter-final defeat against Perak with a 3-1 win in the return fixture on Sunday.
In the match that was held at the Shah Alam Stadium, Syazwan Zainon struck with the opener in the 33rd minute, before man-in-form Khyril Muhymeen Zambri netted a brace (45, 67'). Brendan Gan pulled one back seven minutes from time to set up a nervy end to the encounter, but the visitors never found the second goal that would have given them the win on the away-goal rule.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, the Red Giants boss B. Satiananthan was full of praise for his charges.
"We prepared well for the game, we expected the [home] crowd to come and the boys were eager to play. We scored three goals, two of them from Muhymeen.
"Three goals up and we started to panic a little because Perak are dangerous from set-pieces, but Azhan (goalkeeper Khairulazhan Khalid) showed why he deserved his recent Malaysia call-up. But we did not 'bungkus' (collapse) like one publication has said," he remarked.
He singled out Muhymeen for praise, and spoke of the 32-year old flanker's ability to stay competitive at his age.
"I believe that when a player has the talent... I've known him since he was 18 years old," remarked the former Malaysia head coach. "Fans criticised me then for not fielding him in the SEA Games in Korat, but he was very, very young. He has speed, he has character
"He's like [Cristiano] Ronaldo. He can beat two players and he's strong. When he first joined Selangor he was injured and I told him he wouldn't play as long as he isn't fit. He was raring to play but I told him 'be patient'.
"As a coach we need to know when a player is ready, so I avoided fielding him prematurely. I kept checking with the doctor, with the physiotherapist, knowing that when he's actually ready, he will star for us. And even now he's not yet the player he was before, but he will get there, I'm confident of this,"
But when asked by Goal about his players seeming inability to control their emotions when confronted by the provocative playing style of Perak defensive midfielder Leandro dos Santos, Satiananthan defended his charges, saying that they were instructed by him to stand their ground against the Brazilian.
"Nobody seems to be talking about their number eight (dos Santos). He's irritating! I remember in the final (FA Cup final against Kedah in July), when the referee flashed him a yellow card, he went quiet for the rest of the game.
"He's a good player, he's hardworking and does a lot of things, but he irritates the opponents and needs to be careful. I'd told my players to be careful also, but they need to be hard on him. In the first leg we were second best in terms of tackles but today we were the better side," he explained.
The 61-year old coach also took the time to praise the club board, who kept their trust in him and gave him the space to lead the team.
"I also want to thank the president RMS (Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin) who gave me all his blessings. Do you know why I'm confident? It's because he told me that the team has improved, so I made sure that the team keeps progressing.
"I have a good team manager (Datuk Abdul Rauf Ahmad) who doesn't interfere with my job and always asks me if there are any problems. He doesn't interfere at all because he used to play under me and he understands me. I have Nazzab (assistant manager Nazzab Hidzan) and we have a good team. We have a good team, good staff, and then good players. And certain players who earlier had not been cooperative, I can see that they now know what I want. Today they worked as a team and I'm really proud of them," said Satiananthan.
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