KUALA LUMPUR: With Selangor awaiting them on their return to the Super League on Feb 4, Kuala Lumpur hope a successful outing at the pre-season Coppa Sleman tournament in Yogyakarta will prepare them to face their Klang Valley derby rivals.
It is coach Fabio Maciel’s final chance to iron out the deficiencies in the KL team ahead of their first top-flight match in six years.
KL kicked off their Coppa Sleman campaign with a 2-0 win over Indonesian second division side Pakindo Mojokerto Putra on Tuesday with Brazilian striker Guilherme De Paula scoring both goals in the first 25 minutes.
Maciel fielded his strongest side available with Indra Putra Mahayuddin and Junior Aparecido dictating play in midfield in support of forwards De Paula and Paulo Josue.
“It was a good game and the result was beyond expectation because we had an early flight on Monday and it took us more than five hours to get here,” said Maciel.
“I thought the players might be a bit tired but they did well, creating many chances and defended well. Although the Indonesian club is from the second division, they made it difficult for us.”
Maciel intends to make changes for their second game on Thursday against Malaysian Premier League team Police before playing hosts PSS Sleman on Friday.
“I have to take a look at the recovery of the players and I will probably make changes because we play two games in two days,” said Maciel, who led KL to the Premier League title last year.
“I will rotate players so that everyone gets to play but we also want to be champions of this tournament to build confidence before we start the Super League.”
In another match, PSS Sleman claimed a 3-1 win over Police, who scored through Nazri Kamal after being 0-2 down.
KL, however, are without winger Naim Nazmi Zainuddin, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury two weeks ago while Irfan Zakaria is currently in China for the AFC Under-23 Championship.
“I’m happy Irfan and Malaysia are doing well in China and I hope when he returns he can continue his good form,” said Maciel, who usually uses Irfan in a defensive midfield role as opposed to central defence where national youth coach Ong Kim Swee plays him.