Sandro’s not old, he’s gold

  • Football
  • Monday, 20 Jan 2020

The ball’s mine: Selangor’s Sandro Mendonca shielding the ball from Persib Bandung’s Dedi Kusnandar in the Selangor Asia Challenge match at the Shah Alam Stadium. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Selangor’s Brazilian magician Sandro Mendonca had an extra spring in his every step when he played against Persib Bandung in the Selangor Asia Challenge at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday.

Even though it is just a pre-season tournament, the 36-year-old Brazilian was eager to show that he was in his prime and ready for the 2020 Super League.

He not only scored a goal against the Indonesian club, he assisted in another as the Red Giants won 3-0. The other goals were scored by the captain and centreback Taylor Regan and rightback Syahmi Safari.

The former Kedah striker even joked: “I am not an old man, I am g-old man.”

“I am happy to score against Persib, but what is more important is the win, which will boost our confidence.

“Day by day, we can see positive changes within the team. We still have a few more weeks to prepare for the league, so we cannot rest easy.

“For the new season, I might be partnering two new players in the midfield. Brendan (Gan) and Safuwan (Baharuddin) are quality international players. (Brendan plays for Malaysia and Safuwan for Singapore).

“They only trained with us for five weeks, so they are still adapting.

“However, with their quality, I do not see that as a problem.”

Meanwhile, Selangor coach B. Sathianathan said that based on Saturday’s performance alone, Sandro has shown that he is only “getting younger”.

“We deserved to win. I know Persib were not well-prepared. Our boys kept their shape, even with the substitutions and created lots of chances.

“I’m not happy with our movement of the ball, though. It wasn’t fast enough. Maybe it was because of the wet field.

“But I am happy with their fitness. Into the sixth week of training, intensity was good for 60 minutes. Even the substitutes kept the intensity. Overall, I am quite satisfied.”

However, Sathianathan does know that players like Sandro should be taken care of as he does not want to overburden them during the season.

Khyril Muhymeen, 32, was not fit to play against Persib and Sathianathan said he was always consulting with his physiotherapist Helber Richard.

“He is not ready to perform yet. He can play and train, though.

“I don’t want to force these “young” players. If the physio says he is not 100%, I will follow what he says.”

Besides the veterans, Sathianathan was encouraged by the performances of some of the youngsters like leftback Azrin Afiq Rusmini and midfielder Mukhairi Ajmal.

However, he still hopes to have one or two new additions to the team.

“I am hopeful of another player. If we look at the new boys like Azrin, he has the quality. But young players are not consistent and we cannot rush them into that position. I’m sure Azrin will be called up to the national under-19 squad, so I may not have him for most matches.

“I have Tamil (Maran). He is a centreback but I converted him to leftback.

“I hope to get another leftback. We have to discuss the positions in the next three days. If not Sandro has to play there, “ joked Sathianathan.

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