...to the Fore.
Malaysian football has always been about Selangor. The team that used to be called 'Merah Kuning' (Red and Yellow) has re-branded themselves as Red Giants to illustrate their status of being the most successful team in Malaysia.
With the likes of Allahyarham Mokhtar Dahari, the late Arumugam, Soh 'the Tow Kay' Chin Aun and many others they dominated the local football scene. They have the pulling power to attract many star players to don the red and yellow jersey. This is a tradition that has continued even until today.
With the likes of Malaysian internationals such as Safee Sali, Amri Yahyah, Nasriq Bahrom and Amirulhadi Zainal in their squad they would always be the favourites irrespective of whom they are playing against.
Thus when they travelled to Kuala Terengganu for the top of the table clash against the East Coast side Terengganu many Selangor fans have predicted the Red Giants would collect all three points and to some extent predicted a 5-2 scoreline for the away team.
Terengganu who were four points behind selangor in the Liga Super Malaysia table took to the field as underdogs despite being unbeaten in their opening four matches. New Head Coach Irfan Bakti who took over from Ken Worden during the close season brought with him a number of players whom he considered as essentials, which helped a lot compared to the Aussies who took over and mid-season and had to work with the resources available to him.
But for many Ganuans, as long as the coach is given the freedom to do what he sees best for the team they will be behind him wholeheartedly. So far this has been the case for the much travelled Irfan.
K Devan who led Selangor to three of four titles at stake last season certainly did not relish coming back to the scene where his dream of doing a quadruple went to pieces after being knocked out from the Malaysia Cup in the quarter-final stage on penalties.
However, what unfolded in front of him must have Devan wishing for the draw that took the above match into penalties last season. Terengganu went ahead after just ten minutes when Firdaus Faudzi found Ashaari Shamsuddin in a forward move. The lanky forward then released Abdul Manaf Mamat who went on to beat Hamsani Ahmad with a stiff shot to the far post.
Fifteen minutes later K Rajan should have made it 2-0 when another Firdaus pass let him through behind the Selangor defence. But the home side did went two goals ahead when on the half hour mark when Firdaus released Manaf in the same area where he broke the deadlock earlier.
However this time Hamsani came out with a two footed, studs first lunge which sent Manaf flying. The linesman flagged for penalty and the referee concurred despite protests from Selangor players who should be thankful that the man in black did not bring out his red card for the 'assault'.
However, much to the home fans disbelief Hamsani was not even cautioned by referee Syed Azhar Syed Kamar.
Ashaari took the responsibility in putting the ball past Hamsani who went the wrong way. Just before the end of the first half the visitors could have reduced the deficit but Sharbinee Allawee did well to prevent an Amri Yahyah attempt from going into the net.
The second half followed what transpired in the first. Both teams did not really create many clear cut chances but the difference between the two teams was Terengganu made the most of the chances that came their way.
With just twelve minutes to go Terengganu launched another counter-attack after another Selangor pressure. Manaf dummied to let the ball reach substitute Joseph Kallang Tie. The new signing's shot lacked power but such a poor performance displayed by goalkeeper Hamsani last night that he failed to push the ball with enough power to prevent it from finding its way into the net.
Three goals down and the Selangor fans were as quiet as a mouse, unlike at the beginning when they rendered the 'Barisan Kita' in full gutso. As they thought their torturous time in Kuala Terengganu was over Manaf broke free again but as he tussled with a Selangor defender, the latter handled the ball and the referee awarded the second penalty of the night.
Ashaari stepped up to plate once again and Hamsani was beaten for the fourth time last night. It was the same score against Penang last week, which ironically many Selangor fans said Terengganu would not be able to repeat against their beloved Red Giants.
Well, for many Ganuans they will be hoping this will be a standard they can expect from the Turtles week in, week out. This hope will be put to test when they travel to Paroi to face Negeri Sembilan on Tuesday.