Football Tribe SEA Editor
Thai League 1 giants True Bangkok United have emerged as champions of the recently concluded 2020 Selangor Asia Challenge last night, after edging out hosts Selangor FA of the Liga Super Malaysia 4-2 on penalties. Mano Polking’s Bangkok Angels had forced the Red Giants into penalties after playing out an exciting yet goalless 90 minutes.
Both teams came into last night’s finale with 3-0 wins in their previous games, with Bangkok United beating V.League 1 champions Hanoi FC and Selangor seeing off Liga 1 Indonesia side Persib Bandung. This meant that both sides are tied at six points, with three points coming from their wins and the other three points from the three goals that they have scored.
Playing at a wet and waterlogged Shah Alam Stadium, both teams traded blows after blows, however, the soaked pitch prevented them from implementing their usual attacking style of play. Tensions flared in the Bangkok United bench a couple of times due to the referee’s dubious calls that favored the hosts, however, the Thais kept their heads in the game and managed to stand well against Selangor’s style of play that implemented a lot of aerial passings to their flank players.
Marshaled by captain Taylor Regan, Selangor’s defense was also tested a number of times by Bangkok United’s technically superior players, however, like Selangor the Thais failed to make their chances count. Half-time was used by the two teams to shuffle things around, yet it was more of the same as neither team was able to find the deadlock after 90 minutes. The match and the 2020 Selangor Asia Challenge title were then decided by penalties.
Selangor’s substitute goalie Khairulazhan Khalid managed to deny Nattawut Suksum’s effort during the shootout, however his Bangkok United counterpart Warut Mekmusik sealed the title for his team after denying Zahril Azri and Halim Saari during the shootout. With the 2020 Selangor Asia Challenge title in the bag, Bangkok United have announced a statement of intent to their T1 rivals that they will be gunning seriously for silverware in 2020, having last won the league in 2006 (when they were still known as Bangkok University FC) and having gone agonizingly close in the 2016 and 2018 Thai League 1 seasons as well as the 2017 Thai FA Cup.
The early kick-off of the 2020 Selangor Asia Challenge’s final day saw Persib taking on Hanoi, with the Maung Bandung emerging out 2-0 winners in a match that was only played for 45 minutes to seal 3rd place in the tournament. Puja Abdillah took advantage of some lax Hanoi defending in the 19th minute to open the scoreline, before new signing Beni Oktavianto sealed the win in the 38th minute. The second half of the match wasn’t played due to the torrential downpour combined with thunder and strong winds that made the Shah Alam pitch unplayable, and after discussing with officials from both Persib and Hanoi, the referee decided to conclude the match, with Persib declared as the winners of the match. The very same downpour also affected the Selangor vs. Bangkok United match played hours afterward, with the barely-playable pitch affecting the two teams’ styles of play.
It was such a shame that such a great tournament was affected by adverse weather conditions, however, this will provide the management of both Selangor FA and Shah Alam Stadium with some food for thought. The Shah Alam’s pitch was notorious for being easily waterlogged, with the pitch becoming soggy and uneven with each rainfall. The problem with the pitch isn’t a new one, however, games will come thick and fast at the stadium in the 2020 season, and the management must do their best to improve the Shah Alam pitch in order to accommodate Selangor’s growing ambitions. In the end, nobody wants to play continental football on such poor pitch conditions.