Selangor rest players, upset by struggling Sarawak in Malaysia Cup
A gamble by Selangor to introduce new faces in the Malaysia Cup backfired as they fell to a 2-1 home defeat against strugglers Sarawak in Group D on Wednesday night.
Sarawak are fighting relegation in the Malaysia Super League, and have been whipping boys in cup competitions, but they deserved their victory over the 33-time champions at Selayang Stadium.
The result leaves Selangor below Johor Darul Ta'zim in the group, ahead of their second meeting on Sep. 9.
In Group C, Melaka United buried the quarterfinal hopes of Kelantan with a 3-2 away win in Kota Bharu.
Their South Korean anchorman Jeon Woo-young was the hero with a brace, as Croatian forward Marko Simic also chipped in with a goal.
The loss all but dumps the troubled Red Warriors out of the competition, ahead of their final group match against in-form Kedah on Sep 9.
Against Sarawak, Selangor boss P. Maniam gave his fringe players a chance with qualification to the last eight already secured.
The Red Giants started strongly, with national under-22 winger Syahmi Safari trying his luck with two efforts in the first 15 minutes.
He was by far the best player in the opening exchanges, and it was no surprise when he was involved in the opening goal.
His floated free kick found Ugo Ukah, and the defender met the delivery by nodding home to put the hosts ahead in the 37th minute.
The header underlined Ukah's love for this competition, with four of his five goals for Selangor coming in the Malaysia Cup since joining last year.
Sarawak, who are already eliminated from the competition, found the equaliser in the 52nd minute.
It came through their Croatian forward Mateo Roskam, who drove an effort past Zarif Irfan. The goal was Roskam's third in as many appearances against Selangor this season.
Sarawak were inspired by the equaliser, and they took a surprise lead through Milos Raickovic midway through the second half.
Selangor tried to respond right away through substitute Andik Vermansyah.
But Shahrul was equal to the Indonesian winger's efforts with another decent save, keeping his team on course for their first win in the competition.
Selangor: Zarif Irfan (GK), A. Namathevan, Abdul Halim Zainal, Saiful Ridzuwan Selamat, Razman Roslan (C), Ugo Ukah, Syahmi Safari, Fittri Shazwan (Amri Yahyah 62'), Fairuz Abdul Aziz, Nur Shamil Ghani, K. Kannan (Andik Vermansyah 62')
Sarawak: Shahrul Sa'ari (GK), Nur Shamie Iszuan, Tommy Mawat, Mateo Roskam, Hairol Mokhtar (C), Mazwandi Zekeria, Alif Hassan, Hafis Saperi, Jimmy Raymond, Rodney Celvin, Milos Rajckovic
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.