Real Benchwarmer 0-1 FC Rubin Irbid
It was a weird day. When this time of the year suggests a typical chilly winter day with snow flakes, we got a sunny day with considerable heat. ‘Winter heat’ would be a term that could describe the PSL matches today, full of nice, rare surprises and contradictory results amidst all pre-match predictions. There were strange moments, some heated confrontations and of course, some great, classy football.
Prior to this match, the result between Bugatti FC and Phoenix Bangkit FC seemed to set the tone that nothing can be taken for granted in football. Hugely unpredictable, both teams should make an effort to win with the last match played whether a win or draw was the least in their minds.
Without a doubt, Real Benchwarmer was the favorites to win after back-to-back wins which saw them mounting a title challenge after starting sluggishly in the opening day of PSL. It was well documented that Mr. Hasmat, the well-known JPA officer is the catalyst behind the team’s charge to the top. Together with Abdul Waasiek Ahmad Fikri and Muhtadiin Ramli, the team’s captain and vice captain respectively, they formed a formidable force in midfield area thus strengthen the backbone of the team.
FC Rubin Irbid surely lived up to their reputation as a team with mixed results. A draw last time leave them mid-table in the league which probably good but not outstanding enough to announce them as title contender. They also possess good midfield players in their ranks such as Duang, Mohd Amin, Abdullah Harith a.k.a.Yop and the fans’ favorite player, Abdullah Ashraf a.k.a Gorlami, the vice captain which been compared to Arda Turan recently. The captain and the goalkeeper, Mohd Fauzi should be on his toes to keep a clean sheet, thwarting attacks from Real Benchwarmer.
Abdul Waasiek didn’t make many changes from the last match as he went for the tried and tested formation with the same RB lineup for the past two matches. One player that stand out from the rest would be Qayyim, the good-looking goalkeeper that been voted the best PSL goalkeeper so far by his peers. His calm judgment and good positioning would be vital for his team.
Inexplicably, Abdullah Ashraf had been omitted from the starting lineup of FCRI, much to the derision of some supporters. Mohd Fauzi surely had something in his mind when he replaces the enthusiastic winger with Muhammad Shukri, a cultured and composed midfielder himself. To be honest, the lineup seemed to be heavy in midfield and a bit centralized. It was evident that possession would be the order of the day for FCRI.
The match started with a fast tempo. Both teams tried to create chances with plenty of killer balls been played. It was probably the heat but both teams showed great spirit in chasing the ball and showed good attacking movement when they on it. Sofuan Azahari a.k.a Pue from RB showed some silky touches, linking well with Muhtadiin dizzying dribbles and Abdul Waasiek fast attacking runs. However, FCRI grew in stature as the match progressed. The captain’s decision and tactic was vindicated as they hold the ball much more and really threatened with their sole striker, Azlan Shah.
Halftime came too soon for the crowd as we being mesmerized by the performance by both teams. It probably not seen by many of the spectators but FCRI did finish strongly for the halftime. Their midfield plays, orchestrated by Abdullah Harith and Mohd Amin were exquisite. All they need would be a good final ball into the box and more shots to get a goal. RB seemed to be suppressed much of the match with their attacking threat came from counterattack movement by Abdul Waasiek. They really need to break up the midfield dominance by FCRI and increase pressure on the opponent’s defense.
In contrast to the first half, the second half started slowly with injury incidents piled up. Both teams became more aggressive to win the ball, frantically trying to get the winning goal. But RB still can’t cope with FCRI midfielders and finally they conceded a goal when Duang ran with the ball on the right, crossed to Abdullah Harith who produced a magical play, shimmied past through two defenders and release a venomous shot to the left bottom corner. The RB resistance died from that moment.
MY MAN OF THE MATCH: Abdullah Harith- many of the FRCI midfielders were good but this man strengthens his case with a goal to cap a performance of highest quality. Designated as central midfielder which is not his forte, he truly impressed with his vision and creativity. His goal also demonstrates his high technical abilities. Simply sublime.
REAL BENCHWARMER VERDICT: A shock loss that would send ripples of questions about their credibility as title challenger. They did start brightly enough but certainly seemed fizzed out of ideas and imagination at the final third area. After the famous win against WDS FC, this would be a loud wake up call for the team to regroup and stay on course for the title.
FC RUBIN IRBID VERDICT: An excellent team performance. Apart from their shaky defense, they really showed how to play football with accurate, simple passes in the midfield area. Their main concern would to be consistently performed at this level. They suddenly emerged as the real dark horses in the league, usurping the RB as one of the challengers.
REFEREE RUFFLED: When most of the audience would like to focus their attention to the match, the referee, Abdul Munir Sanusi stole the spotlight when he went to the sidelines to get a drink, probably thirsty from the heat. Some of the crowd didn’t fancy that it seemed and made their slight concern heard. Abdul Munir responded by showing them the red card several times but didn’t really send them off. The incident was funny but seriously damaging the PSL integrity and the referees’ reputation as a whole. Munir, you’ve been warned.
Regular PSL Columnist, Abdul Hadi Damanhuri (Bugatti FC)