Southeast Asia Malaysia

LS Matchweek 12 Recap: Bergson Earns Tigers Late Win as Refreshed Pahang Force Selangor into Draw

The 12th matchweek of the 2021 Liga Super Malaysia season was played over the midweek, with league leaders Johor Darul Ta’zim recovering from a mini-blip to reassert their dominance over the league thanks to a 1-0 win over Kedah Darul Aman on Tuesday while on Wednesday second-bottom side Sri Pahang FC, bearing a new look after replacing almost all of their foreign players, managed to force favorites Selangor FC to a 2-2 draw thanks to a last minute equalizer from Malik Ariff.

Having lost and drawn their last two games, JDT travel to the Darul Aman Stadium on Tuesday hoping for some degree of redemption. Their slight loss of form has enabled 2nd placed Terengganu FC to breathe down JDT’s neck, with three points separating the two, and only a win away at Kedah could slightly ease worries for the Southern Tigers as they seek to keep the Turtles at bay.

With Terengganu taking on last-placed UiTM FC in a match that they would surely win, JDT huffed and puffed as Kedah managed to frustrate them throughout the match. Rabih Ataya almost gave the Red Eagles the lead in the 4th minute, before both teams soon succumb to the tension generated by the match and the frustration that came with their inability to break the deadlock, with tempers flaring during half-time that was quickly dealt with by the officials.

An ill-timed challenge by Kedah defender Renan Alves costed JDT their danger man Gonzalo Cabrera in the 56th minute, before former Borneo FC man Renan fouled substitute Mohamadou Sumareh within the area during the dying minutes of the match. That foul proved to be pivotal as the referee awarded JDT a penalty, which Bergson took perfectly to give JDT the 1-0 win.

The win provided some respite for JDT after their 2-match winless run, though Terengganu’s 3-0 destruction of UiTM meant that the gap between 1st placed Southern Tigers and 2nd placed Turtles remain at 3 points.

Tuesday’s other Liga Super game saw a clash between promoted sides at the KLFA Stadium, with a Paulo Josue hat-trick ensuring Kuala Lumpur City a resounding 3-1 win over in-form Penang FC.

With a relegation battle at their hands, second-from-bottom Pahang decided to do drastic changes to their squad ahead of their clash against Selangor at the Darul Makmur Stadium on Wednesday. The Tok Gajah‘s foreign contingent was shown the door – with the exception of Herold Goulon, Lee Tuck, Mamadou Wague, Yehven Bokhashvili, and Pedro Henrique had their Pahang contracts terminated.

Replacing the quartet were Ghanaian Yakubu Abubakar, Argentinian Manuel Hidalgo, former Melbourne Victory player Kenny Athiu, and Myanmar U-23 national team stalwart Aung Kaung Mann. Yakubu and Manuel were thrown into the mix almost immediately on Wednesday with the duo being named in Dollah Salleh’s starting lineup, while Kenny was named on the bench and Aung wasn’t featured in the match against Selangor at all.

Former Sheffield Wednesday player Manuel blasted home a debut goal in the 47th minute to give Pahang the lead, however Selangor managed to fight back and took the lead late in the match, with Hein Htet Aung scoring the equalizer in the 76th minute and Ifedayo Olusegun giving Selangor the advantage in the 87th minute.

However, Ariff was on-hand to salvage a solitary point for Pahang right at the death with a close-ranged header that went past Khairulazhan Khalid, ensuring that the match would end as a 2-2 stalemate.

Selangor had to end the match with 10 men following Sharul Nazeem’s dismissal right at the end of injury time, with his foul on Baqiuddin Shamsudin leading to the free-kick that resulted in Ariff’s equalizer.

Wednesday’s other Matchweek 12 games saw Sabah FC continuing their renaissance, pulling off a confident 3-1 win over Melaka United at the Likas Stadium, while Chong Yee Fatt’s Perak FC managed to alleviate some pressure off themselves thanks to a 1-0 win away at Petaling Jaya City.