News • September 28, 2014

Durakovic’s Aware of Singapore-Selangor Rivalry


Written By: Kenneth Ho

The Sultan of Selangor Cup has often been seen as just an annual friendly between the two traditional giants of the Malaysia Cup.

But just try telling that to Selangor FA coach Mehmet Durakovic, who will be leading the Red Giants against Amin Nasir’s Singapore Selection on Saturday at the Shah Alam Stadium.

The 48-year-old former Australian international was not having any of this friendly talk – not when there was so much historical rivalry between the two powerhouses, and not when the game will be played in front of the Sultan of Selangor and 80,000 fans at the Shah Alam Stadium.

“I am a firm believer in tradition and I respect tradition. That’s why I am taking the match seriously,” said Durakovic who also played for Selangor in the 1990s and helped the state to win three Malaysia Cups (1995, 1996 and 1997).

Interestingly, Durakovic never played against Singapore in the Malaysia Cup as a Red Giant as the Lions pulled out of the Malaysian football tournaments after winning the Double in 1994.

But the Selangor coach has heard enough to say: “Singapore vs Selangor in football is always something special, something to look forward to. So I definitely want to field my best team and my best available players.”

This means that Selangor will be parading all four of their foreign signings, namely sensational Brazilian striker Paulo Rangel, who has scored 26 goals in 25 games, versatile  Indonesian winger Andik Vermansyah, who has scored seven goals, and defenders Steve Pantilidis (Australia) and Evaldo (Brazil).

“I am sure the Singapore Selection will be a strong side too and the best of the foreign talent in the S-League will be here. I am expecting a tough  match,” said Durakovic.

But Singapore Selection coach Amin Nasir thinks that Selangor – who finished second in this year’s Malaysian Super League and have reached the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Cup – will be the favourites on Saturday.

“We only had one training session before coming here but I believe the experience of the key players like Shahdan Sulaiman (Tampines Rovers), and Hafiz Nor and Muhammad Ridhuan (both Geylang International) will guide the team. Still, Selangor will be the favourites. They are at home and the team has been kept together throughout the M-League season and also the Malaysia Cup competition.”

Ironically, the same can also be said of the Singapore Veterans side that will take on their Selangor counterparts in the curtain-raiser because of the partnership of Fandi Ahmad and V. Sundramoorthy – two of Singapore’s biggest names in football. Other former Singapore stars included defender Lim Tong Hai, Razali Saad, Steven Tan and Robert Sim.

But for Malek Awab, Singapore’s midfielder extraordinaire, the veterans’ match was something he always looked forward too.

“It’s so nice to catch up with old friends and the big names of Malaysian football like Soh Chin Aun and Santokh Singh. So many of them,” Malek said.

“Just seeing them still able to kick and run on a football pitch is so nice. I want to win but it doesn’t really matter in the end.”