Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Croatian striker Bosko Balaban helps Selangor beat Kelantan

Selangor’s new signing Bosko Balaban made a memorable debut by scoring in the Red Giants’ surprise 2-1 win over Super League leaders Kelantan at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night.

National midfielder Safiq Rahim opened the scoring with a screamer in the 47th minute before Croatian Balaban put his name on the scoresheet with a clinical finish from inside the box in the 75th minute. Kelantan centreback S. Subramanian reduced the deficit from a goalmouth melee in the first minute of stoppage time.

Table-toppers Kelantan fell to their first defeat of the season but still stayed top of the 14-team standing on 17 points – two ahead of second-placed Perak, who went down to Lions XII 1-2 at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh.

For Selangor, it was a timely boost to their dismal campaign and the win ended their winless two–year run against bogey team Kelantan.

It was a huge sigh of relief for the FA of Selangor (FAS) when they obtained Balaban’s International Transfer Certificate (ITC) just hours before the deadline for the registeration of foreign players closed on Monday.

Kelantan in a surprise move fielded new signing Nwoha Onyekachi from Nigeria, with usual starter Mohd Ghaddar Mahmoud from Lebanon omitted.

The Red Giants wasted no time and had Balaban in the starting line-up but the former Aston Villa player failed to score in the first half after squandering an open chance in front of goal with only Kelantan custodian Khairul Fahmi Che Mat to beat in the 25th minute. Safiq Rahim sent over a perfect cross but Balaban’s header missed the target from close range.

Kelantan were unlucky not to have scored when Indra Putra Mahayuddin’s point blank header was saved by Selangor goalkeeper Norazlan Razali four minutes later.

Then, it was Selangor’s turn to turn on the heat after the breather when Safiq latched onto a loose ball to fire from the edge of the box beyond the reach of Khairul Fahmi to put the home side ahead.

Stunned by the goal, Kelantan doubled their effort in their search for the equaliser but coach Peter Butler’s side lacked the final touch, with the league’s leading scorer Norshahrul Idlan Talaha having a quiet night.

There were more woes for the Red Warriors when Balaban doubled Selangor’s lead when he collected a long ball from Safiq before sprinting and slamming the ball past Khairul Fahmi.
Subramaniam’s late consolation proved to be too little, too late for the visitors.

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