Singapore Edge Selangor In Thriller To Retain TSSC Cup




Aaron Chan
Writer / Editor
The Unofficial S.League Podcast


Christina Seah-Rodrigues
Photographer
The Unofficial S.League Podcast


It was billed as a potentially explosive affair given the bitter rivalry between Singapore and Selangor during the weeks leading up to The Sultan of Selangor's Cup (TSSC) and both teams did not disappoint the partisan crowd of 25,619 with an exciting match which saw the Singapore Selection defend their home fortress with a 3-2 scoreline to retain the Cup.

The Singapore side displayed unbelievable hunger in the opening stages of the match and it took them just 10 minutes to open the scoring when Yasir Hanapi provided a telling cross for Khairul Nizam to head home, much to the delight of the Singapore fans.

Safee Sali then tried to launch a comeback for Selangor as he attempted an audacious bicycle kick moments later and the Malaysian international drew catcalls from the Selangor half of the stadium when he nutmegged Yasutaka Yanagi only to be thwarted by an alert Hassan Sunny.

Safee would go on to face a barren first half when he found himself out-muscled off the ball by Irfan Fandi on several occasions and the PKNS striker often found himself stranded upfront without any service from his team-mates.

The stands erupted in joy once again two minutes before half-time when Yasir played a superb through pass to play Shakir Hamzah onside and the Tampines winger placed the ball past Zamir with an accomplished outside-of-the-foot shot that left the Selangor custodian with no chance.

Selangor earned a reprieve after the restart when they got a penalty through Safee, who was deemed to have been body-checked unfairly by Afiq Yunos, but to the dismay of the Malaysian bench, the 33 year old skied his spot kick uncharacteristically into the Kallang skyline.

Khairul Nizam then earned a penalty for Singapore in the 58th minute when he was tripped while through on goal and Faris Ramli made no mistake from the spot, sending Zamir the wrong way with a coolly taken shot.



The three goal cushion prompted a revival of the Kallang Wave but Safee had other ideas and pulled one back for Selangor five minutes later with a wicked shot that flew past Hassan into the right corner.

Gonzalo Soto then set up a tense finish to the match when he scrambled the ball in for Selangor following a goal-mouth melee but the Singapore Selection held on for dear life to ensure that they would finish as TSSC winners for the second year running. 

Selangor Selection Head Coach E Elavarasan was evidently downcast after the match. "We have to accept the result. We cant' change the result. Of course I'm disappointed because it could have been a three-all draw. But that would have been unfair to Singapore given the way they played. You could see that Safee was given absolutely no space and we had to push our play to the flanks." 

On the contrary, Singapore Selection Head Coach Fandi Ahmad was delighted with the win and match attendance. "We are very happy with the turnout of the fans. We hope to have more of such games in future where we can hear more of the Kallang Roar. I was happy with the way we attacked, with Faris (Ramli), Yasir (Hanapi), Jordan (Webb) and Kento (Nagasaki) linking up nicely. We went all out in the first half and I thought our two wingers caused a lot of damage to (Selangor)."

"It's always sweet to get a victory against any Malaysian team, not just Selangor. We are glad that it panned out into an entertaining game and I hope the crowd enjoyed it."

On the players who impressed him, Fandi enthused "The Veterans who were with me were asking, who was that Number 15? (Kento Nagasaki). They were as impressed as I was, the way he played, the touches and passes he made. Kento has been here for five years, Jordan (Webb) has been here for five years. Now that the elections are over, we need to start moving things forward now (on naturalising these players)."

With the victory, the Singapore Selection has now matched Selangor as joint seven-time winners of the Cup.

In the earlier matches played that evening, the Singapore and Selangor Veterans were declared as joint winners after a 0-0 stalemate while the Singapore Sports School defeated the Selangor Combined Schools in a penalty shootout after drawing 1-1 in regulation time.



Full-Time at Singapore Sports Hub - The Sultan of Selangor's Cup (6 May 2017):

Singapore Selection - 3
Selangor Selection - 2

Scorers:

Singapore Selection - Khairul Nizam 10', Shakir Hamzah 43', Faris Ramli 58' (P)
Selangor Selection - Safee Sali 63', Gonzalo Soto 77'




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