BY S. SIVABALAN
SINGAPORE: Selangor MPPJ once again proved in the 2-2 draw against the Singapore-League All Stars in the Sultan of Selangor's Cup on Sunday why they are considered one of the best teams in Malaysia even though they are playing in the second flight Premier League.
The Malaysia Cup champions trailed by two goals in the first half but clawed their way back into the game against the Singaporeans at the National Stadium here.
MPPJ coach Dollah Salleh said that his team should not be judged solely on their performance in the first half.
Overall, I think we played well. The All Stars were very fast and we were able to match them. That was something that I have to be happy about, said Dollah.
MPPJ again relied heavily on their foreign players to get goals. And Argentines Juan Manuel Arostegui and Fabricio Francesni duly delivered in the 50th and 55th minutes respectively.
The All Stars had gone in front with goals by Shahril Ishak and Agu Casmir in the 15th and 35th minutes.
MPPJ's other Argentine striker Brenezac Sasa also performed well but Dollah chose to replace him late in the second half to give Nizaruddin Yusop a chance to prove himself.
I was spoiled for choice when deciding on who should take the field.
Everyone was up to the task, said Dollah.
But Nizaruddin was unable to form a strong partnership upfront with Arostegui.
On a positive note, Burno Martelotto returned to the starting line-up after a month's lay-off because of an ankle injury.
His passes were not accurate, especially in the first half. However, Martelotto did combine well with Francesni to score the equaliser for MPPJ.
It was clear that Martelotto lacked match fitness and he was replaced by Azrin Shah Zainal late in the second half.
I never intended Martelotto to play the entire match. He just came back after one month. It's going to take more time for him to get back to his usual self, said Dollah.
It is not known whether MPPJ will be selected again to represent Selangor in the annual match against the Singaporeans.
But one thing is for sure. They have made a lasting impression on the 40,000 Singapore fans, who turned up to watch the match.