KANGAR: The hard-earned 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory in the Charity Shield over Perlis here last night has boosted Perak coach Toni Netto’s confidence in his new-look team.
The Brazilian was beaming with joy because his team had already one title in the bag so early in the season. And the bonus is that they also came away from Stadium Utama with a point in the Super League.
Perak will be at home in the other two matches in the Super League against the Malaysia Cup champions.
“Getting an away point from Perlis in just our first match is a good way to start the season. I did not know how we would fare before the match as I had to work with eight new young players in the team,” said Netto.
“But the players put up a determined performance and had the added bonus of bagging a trophy as well. I am very proud of them.”
Among the youngsters who shone for the Seladangs were V. Thirumurugan, Harizul Izuan and Mohd Nor Ismail.
And Netto now believes that his young charges have what it takes to contest for the Super League title.
“Our performance tonight has made me more positive with Perak’s chances in the Super League,” he said.
“I can confidently say that we will be among the top three teams in the league. I want Perak to be strong challengers in all three domestic competitions (Super League, FA Cup and Malaysia Cup).”
Netto, however, admitted that Perak seemed lost in the first half and only a strong pep talk at half-time turned the tide to his team’s favour.
“I told the players at half-time that they were not supposed to play for themselves but for the fans and people of Perak,” he said.
“The players showed more determination in the second period and I hope they can maintain the same level of intensity throughout the season.”
Midfielder Keita Mandjou of Guinea, who scored a brace last night, was shouldering Perak’s goalscoring responsibilities together with national player Mohd Nor.
And Perak will be getting reinforcement in attack in Brazilian forward Elison, who is expected in Ipoh early next week.
Meanwhile, Perlis coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim was rueing the late penalty decision in regulation time, which cost his side the Charity Shield and also full points for the Super League opener.
“Durahim (Jamaluddin) was facing away from the ball when his hand, which was behind him, struck the ball. I do not know how that can result in a penalty,” he said.
“However, not everything is lost as we still came out of the match with one point. We were unlucky not to have scored more goals. Considering the fact that we were playing with a depleted side, I see it as a positive performance.”