Irfan vows Selangor will attack New Radiant

Selangor coach Irfan Bakti has promised his side will go for the jugular when they take on New Radiant in Wednesday's AFC Cup Round of 16 tie.

Shukor gets the credit for the Tampines own-goal.
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

The Red Giants needed a final day victory over Tampines Rovers to seal their progress to the knockout round from Group H, and were rewarded with a trip to Maldives to take on Group F winners New Radiant, who are also the reigning Dhivehi League champions.

Although not many outside the region are familiar with Maldivian football, New Radiant have used the AFC Cup to showcase their abilities and have gained a reputation for being an attacking outfit boasting talents like Ali Ashfaq, Mohamed Umair and Ali Umar.

However, their threat in the final third will not stop Irfan from playing his own brand of attacking football at the Galolhu National Stadium on Wednesday, which he promised to do in the pre-match press conference.

"We have to be careful with New Radiant," he said. "They beat Persibo [Bojonegoro] 7-0 [in the group stage] so we can't take it easy.

"What I know is that New Radiant are a very good attacking side with good local players, especially the flankers.

"But our aim is to attack and we must score goals. We will go on full-attack mode."

One worrying sign for Selangor has been their lacklustre domestic form leading up to Wednesday's game, and they are almost out of the Malaysia Super League title running now that they are eight points behind leaders LIONSXII with six games remaining.

Nonetheless, Irfan is hopeful his players will draw motivation from the fact that they will be representing Malaysia when they take on their opponents from the Maldives.

"We came all the way from Malaysia carrying the national flag," he added. "It's a one-legged game so we must win.

"We are aware that our results in the league haven't been so good lately but it's different when we play in the AFC Cup. We lost two games in the group stage but we managed to come back [and qualify].

"I have to admit that we were lucky to finish second in the group. But this time I am confident with the players that they can do it and win to go through to the next round.

"Playing in the AFC Cup is like representing the country."

Although his side have home advantage, New Radiant coach Velizar Popov acknowledges that some have installed Selangor as favourites for the tie, but he guaranteed they will not be intimated on Wednesday.

"Selangor are a solid team," he said. "I watched them play against Perak in the league and East Bengal in the AFC Cup.

"Maybe, on paper, Selangor are favourites but we are not under pressure. We respect them but we are not afraid.

"It's only one game and maybe one goal will be all that is needed to decide the game. Hopefully, that one goal will come from us."

Selangor are Malaysia's last remaining hope in the competition after Kelantan were eliminated on Tuesday evening following a 2-0 home loss to Hong Kong's Kitchee.

Image courtesy of WSG

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