Rangel on their minds
Fandi says it will take a team effort to stop Brazilian hotshot
SELANGOR v LIONSXII
(Tomorrow, 8.45pm, Shah Alam Stadium)
Safuwan Baharudin knew exactly what the question was going to be.
"You're going to ask me about Paulo Rangel, right," said the LionsXII defender, before yesterday's training session at the Hougang Stadium.
He was spot-on.
After all, Rangel's goals have been the reason for Selangor's successful run in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) this season. The LionsXII face their traditional rivals tomorrow at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Selangor are going great guns in the MSL and will be deadly keen to beat the champions, and with Rangel in the mood up front, they will be confident.
The Brazilian striker has notched 10 goals for the Malaysian giants already, making him the runaway top scorer in the MSL, five ahead of four others.
While playing for Perak last season, the 29-year-old constantly terrorised the LionsXII defence during a 1-1 draw in Ipoh, scoring for his team before Shahfiq Ghani's free-kick equaliser.
"He's the most prolific striker in the league," LionsXII star Safuwan, 22, told The New Paper yesterday.
"I think, even when you talk about Luciano Figueroa (Johor Darul Ta'zim) or Francis Doe (Kelantan), it's not as frightening as this guy.
"When he was in Perak last year, he gave us a lot of problems... But, in a way, I'm looking forward to facing him. It's a good test for me.
"How do I stop him? Don't let him get the ball."
Coach Fandi Ahmad will not leave the arduous task of marking Rangel to one man. It will be a team effort, he said.
The 51-year-old will have to tinker with his back four, given that regular fullback Faritz Hameed is suspended and Madhu Mohana is rated at 60-40 because of a foot injury.
Faritz picked up his third yellow card of the season during the LionsXII's morale-boosting 4-1 win over league leaders Pahang on Tuesday at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Safuwan could be pushed up to midfield, with left back Shakir Hamzah deputising in the centre alongside Afiq Yunos.
Midfielder Hafiz Abu Sujad could come in as the left back.
"Whoever plays, stopping Rangel will take a team effort - like how we stopped (Pahang striker) Dickson (Nwakaeme)," Fandi said.
The LionsXII coach is hoping to capitalise on having a day's extra rest, after Selangor were in Indonesia for an AFC Cup match against Arema Malang on Wednesday.
They lost that game 1-0 and were eliminated from the regional competition.
"The fact that they might be tired from that game and all the travelling is a plus for us - we have to take advantage of that," said Fandi.
"We might be playing away against a strong team like Selangor, but we are going for three points.
"It's not like we are top of the table and can be cautious. We are chasing, so we have to go for broke.
"If we defend, concede in the last minute and lose 1-0, we will regret that we didn't attack. I don't want that."
Nizam's out, so Sufian's in
The week just got better for Sufian Anuar.
After netting a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over league leaders Pahang on Tuesday, the LionsXII striker is likely to be rewarded with a starting role against arch-rivals Selangor in their Malaysian Super League clash tomorrow.
Coach Fandi Ahmad confirmed that Khairul Nizam, who started against Pahang, is sidelined for a week after spraining the lateral side of his knee in the match.
That means 27-year-old Sufian will probably start alongside supporting striker Khairul Amri.
"The Pahang game was a real morale booster, and I've been feeling good ever since," Sufian said.
"But that's already the past. Football is not like exams that when you pass, you're set.
"In this business, you have to keep going and scoring. Otherwise, people forget very quickly."
Fandi may also have to change things for the right wing position.
The LionsXII fielded fullback Faritz Hameed in that role against Pahang, in place of the injured Nazrul Nazari (hamstring).
With Faritz suspended after picking up his third yellow card, Nazrul faces a race against time to be fit for Selangor.
Said Fandi: "We'll have to look at Nazrul's condition (today) before deciding.
"I hope he can play, because we need his work rate on the flank for this tough game."