PETALING JAYA, Nov 17 — Selangor FC head coach Tan Cheng Hoe admitted that he has never led a team to win a match with all goals scored through set pieces.
The former national team coach said all three Selangor goals came from corner kicks when they defeated Terengganu FC 3-1 in their first semi-final match in the Malaysia Cup yesterday, which was a first for him in his coaching career.
Cheng Hoe also praised Muhammad Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi after the 21-year-old midfielder proved his quality in making the passes in all three corner kicks he took in the clash at the Petaling Jaya City Council Stadium.
“”So far, this was the first time I felt the atmosphere (of victory) with three goals coming from corner kicks. Of course it’s not luck…we have had the training and I’m so confident with Mukhairi, he has the best delivery,” he told the post-match press conference.
In last night’s action, Terengganu coached by Mohd Nafuzi Mohd Zain surprised the Red Giants after scoring the opening goal through team captain Tchetche Kipre’s free kick in the 19th minute.
However, Selangor came back to score three goals from the corner kicks taken by Muhammad Mukhairi which were converted by Richmond Tetteh Ankrah in the 37th minute, Herlison Caion De Souza Ferreira (43rd minute) and Sharul Nazeem Zulpakar in the 54th minute.
The defeat ended the streak of nine consecutive victories of the Turtles in all competitions, while the success achieved by Selangor extended Cheng Hoe’s unbeaten record to nine games since taking over as head coach at the end of September.
Cheng Hoe said the nine-game unbeaten run did not put him under pressure, but instead was a boost ahead of the return leg at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Gong Badak, on Monday.
At the same time, he considered that Selangor were not yet ‘safe’ despite bringing a comfortable advantage to the opponent’s camp considering that Terengganu had a good record of playing at home.
“Even with a 3-1 score it is not a guarantee that we will qualify for the final but we have to go to Terengganu with confidence and cannot take the match lightly because Terengganu have a very good attacking line-up,” he said.
For the record, the last time the two teams met in the semi-finals of the Malaysia Cup was in the 2011 edition which saw Terengganu win 4-1 on aggregate.
The last time Selangor entered the final was in 2016 while Terengganu in the 2018 edition. The last time Selangor emerged as Malaysia Cup champions was in the 2015 edition while Terengganu in 2001.