SELAYANG: Selangor Public Bank opened their FA Cup campaign in style when they stunned newly promoted Kedah 3-1 in the first leg of their first-round match at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium here last night.
The bankers, who had a fairy tale run in their debut season in Premier II last year, qualifying for the quarter-finals of the FA and Malaysia Cup competitions, gave an early indication that they would again be a team to watch as they raced to a 2-0 lead in the first half.
Slovak striker Ivan Ziga hit a brace in the 27th and 33rd minutes and skipper Paul Raj then sealed the match with a third four minutes into the second half.
Kedah brought on national striker Akmal Rizal Rakhli after the breather and he scored in the 67th minute to reduce the deficit. But there was little else he could do and Kedah now have an uphill task in the return-leg in Alor Star on Feb 26.
It was an embarrassing start for the Hijau Kuning outfit, who started without hotshots Akmal, Mohamed Rafdi Rashid and Che Hishamuddin Hassan.
Kedah's former international goalkeeper Mazlan Wahid also embarrassed himself when he conceded a soft goal after failing to hold onto a low shot from Ziga in the 27th minute.
The harmless-looking shot from outside the box bounced on the bumpy ground and slipped between Mazlan's legs into goal.
Kedah had a golden chance to draw level but national player Irwan Fadly Idrus ballooned the ball in front of an open goal after Matar Diop's shot came off the woodwork in the 30th minute.
Just when Kedah were beginning to look dangerous, the bankers pulled off another surprise and went ahead again through Ziga in the 33rd minute after a neat set-piece move between their new Slovak striker Milan Strelec and Ziga.
Kedah started the second half with a vengeance but conceded the third goal against the run of play when Public Bank skipper Paul Raj slotted the ball in from close range in the 49th minute.
The visitors, in a desperate move, brought in national striker Akmal Rizal for G. Shanmugam. It helped only a little.
Public Bank: S. Rajkumar, M. Eswaran (A. Muralitharan), Milan Strelec (S.Paidiyah Rao) Mohamed Noor Derus, M. Chandran, Nor Nazri Mohamed Nor, M. Elangoo, Leong Hong Seng, Ivan Ziga, Ganeson Arumugam, Paul Raj (P. Maniam)
Kedah: Mazlan Wahid, Victor Andrag, Mansoor Azwira Wahid, Liew Kit Kong, Matar Diop, Mohamed Pauzie Nan, Shariman Che Omar, Irwan Fadly Idrus (Zainuddin Ariffin), Ooi Hoe Guan (Mohd Rizal Harun), G. Shanmugam (Akmal Rizal), Thomas Abel