Selangor's Paulo Rangel starred for his new team with two goals as they beat T-Team in their opening Super League match at the MBPJ Stadium on Saturday. - AZHAR MAHFOF/ The Star
PETALING JAYA: Selangor’s decision to go “Samba” paid dividends in their very first match of the M-League at the MBPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya.
The Red Giants, who are hoping to end a three-year trophy drought, opted to hire two Brazilians for the first time in their football history.
And the boys from Brazil did not disappoint – with livewire midfielder Junior de Souza supplying the bullets for striker Paulo Rangel to gun down T-Team in their Super League match on Saturday.
The towering Rangel, who played with Perak last season, won the admiration of the fans when he hit a brace in the 64th and 71st minutes. The winning margin could have been more if Rangel’s eye for goal and his aerial ball abilities were on song.
And there’s compatriot Junior, orchestrating the moves with his menacing runs and skills to outwit defenders.
Junior showed that he is capable of filling up the vacuum left by seasoned Mohd Mohd Amri Yahyah – who has been a pillar of strength in the Selangor squad for 13 years.
Selangor coach Mehmet Durakovic was naturally very pleased with his team’s display.
“Rangel had a fantastic game while the other players all played well,” said Durakovic.
T-Team coach Mohd Azraai Khor Abdullah admitted that Selangor are a stronger side this season.
“There is no doubt we lost to a better team ... even player for player,” said Azraai.
Selangor’s other new signing Steven Pantelidis from Australia was also impressive in the heart of defence. The Aussie also made his mark with over-lapping runs during Selangor’s attack.
In Kota Baru, new-look Kelantan fought back from a goal down to edge Super League debutants Sime Darby FC 2-1 at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium.
Mohd Ghaddar Mahmoud of Lebanon scored a brace for Kelantan in the 60th and 81st minutes (penalty) after former international Mohd Fadzli Shaari had put the club side ahead in the eighth minute.
Kelantan, who lost seven first team regulars to other teams during the off-season, proved that they will still be a hard nut to crack at home.
Armed Forces, meanwhile, got off to a great start when they defeated Sarawak 2-0 at the Selayang Stadium. The Gladiators got their goals through Marlon James (15th minute) and Christie Jayaseelan (34th).
In Kuala Terengganu, Guinean Mamadou Barry bagged a brace to steer Terengganu to a 2-1 win over PKNS FC at the Sultan Ismail Stadium.
Mamadou scored in the 23rd and 67th minutes after Hamka Hamzah had put PKNS ahead in the 19th minute.