Against Kedah on Saturday, Selangor again overcame the odds to record an unlikely result against the homeside, like they did against Perak on Tuesday.
After defeating Perak 1-0 in their mid-week Malaysia Super League match, the Red Giants again opted for unattractive, negative football against Kedah, to record a 1-1 draw at the Darul Aman Stadium.
Many, especially the home fans, may be frustrated by the approach opted by head coach Maniam Pachaiappan, but they did what they could with the hands they were dealt with, after three of their key players were suspended for the match and two players were called up to Malaysia U22 training camp.
What have been talked about the most was the Red Giants’ attempts at running down the clock (with 70 minutes left on it nonetheless) and deliberately slowing the tempo of the match, which is a shame as one man turned in a sterling performance for them.
Goalkeeper Norazlan Razali made save after save against Kedah, against whom they by right should have conceded at least five goals on Saturday night. It was unfortunate that he conceded Ken Ilso Larsen’s 29th minute equaliser after Veenod Subramaniam had given the visitors the lead against the run of play in the 17th minute, but after that he was nothing short of splendid.
He stopped Syazwan Zainon’s powerful shot, tipping it over the bar, but his best save of the match came in the second half. Rizal Ghazali dribbled past three Selangor players into the penalty area before attempting a shot, but the custodian dived the right way to stop the shot.
The rebound fell into the path of the full back again, and he again struck from inside the box. For the second time in seconds, the Johor-born goalkeeper made a reflex save and this time he was able to gather the ball in his arms.
Towards the end of the match, Norazlan made two more heroic saves, making a fingertip save to push out Larsen’s low drive from outside the box, and diving to keep out Sandro da Silva’s freekick.
At final whistle the match ended 1-1, with the Red Giants having to thank their phenomenal goalkeeper for helping them keep the point.
And this is the second time that his heroics have helped Selangor. The 1-0 win against Perak last Tuesday had only happened because he turned in a similar performance to deny numerous chances had by the Bos Gaurus.
Not bad for a shot stopper who earlier in the season had been benched for a long time by Maniam, for conceding five goals in their 5-3 away defeat to PKNS FC.