Monday, 6 February 2012

Struggling Selangor face decline in fan support

The FA of Selangor (FAS) have only themselves to blame for the decline in fan support over the years.

The ‘Merah Kuning’ outfit were the biggest crowd pullers in the 70s, 80s and 90s, but, sadly, the absence of star attractions in recent years has seen a drastic decline in turnouts for their matches.

The Red Giants’ last home game against Sarawak in the Super League drew a meagre 2,000 fans at the cavernous National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

It is obvious Selangor have nothing left to sell to their fans since the departure of ace striker Mohd Safee Sali to Indonesia’s Pelita Jaya FC last February.

The writing is on the wall. Selangor need a big name to draw the fans back or slide into oblivion like their Klang Valley counterparts Kuala Lumpur, who in their heyday had such luminaries like Fandi Ahmad, K. Kannan, Razip Ismail, Serbegeth Singh, Lim Teong Kim and others.

Selangor, 33-time-s Malaysia Cup champions who once dominated Malaysian football, were true giants who attracted the best footballers in the land. Legends like Mokhtar Dahari, R. Arumugam, Santokh Singh, Soh Chin Aun and many others were synonymous with Selangor.

The team’s torrid battles with Singapore were the highlight of the competition.

Selangor also paraded some quality foreign players over the years. Names like Chris Kiwomya (Arsenal), Tony Cottee (West Ham, Everton and England), Niall Quinn (Sunderland), Perica Ognjenovic (Real Madrid), Karel Stromsik (Slovakia), Robert Dunn, Mehmet Durakovic, Alistair Edwards, David Mitchell (Australia), Alexander Freeman, Mass Sarr Jr, Frank Seator (Liberia), Brian Fuentes (Argentina), Bambang Pamungkas and Ellie Aiboy (Indonesia) lit up the team and the local game. But no more.

Current Selangor coach Irfan Bakti wanted forwards to give bite to his attack but all he got was a central defender, Ramez Dayoub from Lebanon, and a lame-duck in Lelo Mbele from Congo.

Mbele was supposed to be Safee’s replacement but the African player’s campaign ended after only 20 minutes of action in pre-season.

Only then did FAS realise that they had made a big mistake in signing on a player with a chronic injury.

Now, they can only hope that their new signing Croatian Bosko Balaban, who last played for Panionios FC in the Super League in Greece, will be worth it.

The 33-year-old,  a former Croatian international, also played for English Premier League side Aston Villa (2001-03).

Balaban was tested in a friendly last Tuesday against the national Under-23 side, which ended goalless.

All participating teams in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) have until Feb 13 to name their new foreign signings.

Selangor are currently fifth in the standings with eight points from two wins, two draws and a defeat.

Selangor’s toothless strike force received another blow when striker R. Surendran was injured during the friendly against the national Under-23 side.

Surendran dislocated his shoulder and is expected to be out for a few months.

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