PETALING JAYA: Kedah coach Aidil Sharin is keeping his fingers crossed that his title-chasing side will not lose any more players to injury as they bid to pile the pressure on leaders Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
Despite missing four first-team members, last year’s runners-up continued to thrive by defeating Selangor 2-1 at the MBPJ Stadium for their fourth successive win on Tuesday.
It was the dominant home side who drew first blood when Oliver Buff opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, but the Red Giants were made to pay a heavy price for their poor finishing.
Liberian hitman Kpah Sherman sparked Kedah’s revival by cooly converting from the spot in the 79th minute, before Tchetche Kipre struck five minutes later to hand Selangor their third defeat of the season.
Aidil was proud of how his charges have defied the odds of late despite needing to play with just 21 fit players out of a full 25-member squad in the midst of fixture congestions.
Kedah headed to Selangor without first-choice goalkeeper Ifwat Akmal, influential Brazilian centreback Renan Alves, midfielder Syazwan Zainon and striker Rozaimi Abdul Rahman.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with my team. We’ve got four players on the injury list, yet we’re still able to overcome the challenges we faced, ” said Aidil.
“It’s not easy to make a comeback against a good team like Selangor.
“Now, we need to really be vigilant about the players’ fitness and we’re going to liaise with our medical staff, considering we have another couple of games coming within a short period.
“We need our players not only to recover, but recover fast. We only have about 20 to 21 players to pick from, so we definitely can’t afford any more injuries.
“We do have an option to call up players from the President Cup, but they have only resumed training not long ago, so we don’t want to bring them in and risk injuring them because the intensity in the top-flight league is totally different.”
Although shorthanded, Kedah did show they have the depth in their squad with four players - Fayadh Zulkifli, Ariff Farhan, Azamuddin Akil and Fadzrul Danel Nizam - making an impact after coming on as substitutes.
“When we were 1-0 down, we needed players who can change the game and Fayadh, Danel, Alex (Azamuddin) and Ariff did just that. They stepped in and gave the team a tremendous boost to turn it around for us, ” he said. Kedah are currently second on 16 points, just one shy of leaders JDT.
They next face fourth-placed Terengganu at home tomorrow.
As for Selangor, German coach Karsten Neitzel said they only had themselves to blame for failing to convert their scoring chances.
“The team played very well and it was a job well done as far as performance is concerned. But result wise, it’s terrible, ” lamented Neitzel.
“We had so many chances, easily the most this season, yet we didn’t score enough to win us the match.”