The road to success for Perak is never going to be easy. Despite topping the league table after an impressive victory over Sarawak, the Seladangs’ luck ran out with successive defeats to T-Team in Kuala Terengganu and Lions XII at Stadium Perak.
What is the reason for the defeat then? It is not difficult to pinpoint the fault, actually. Poor performance is out of the question. The inability of Lazar Popovic to convert chances into goals is the one reason why Perak is so ineffective upfront.
The Serbian forward has not scored a single goal in seven outings and is under intense scrutiny from the fans. Ironically, there does not seem to be much effort coming from his side either. The issue with Popovic is not about support from his teammates but what lies deep within him.
Popovic was impressive during pre-season friendlies with confidence oozing from within him. His brilliance included a hat trick against USM FC in a friendly and helping to set up a few goals during the team’s pre-season tour of Indonesia.
So, the potential to shine is indeed there but Popovic has to fight a psychological battle with himself. His physical presence is already a big plus for Perak. Lions XII’s coach, V. Sundramoorthy, told Ipoh Echo after the home match last week that Popovic was a huge threat to his team.
His problem is identical to that of Chelsea’s Fernando Torres. For strikers, it is all about confidence. The Serbian forward showed glimpses of his capabilities in Perak’s victory over ATM in the FA Cup. After coming on as a substitute for the injured Akhmal Rizal, Popovic forced ATM’s goalkeeper to work overtime with his many brilliant moves. He has the aptitude.
The Seladangs now have a good respite before their next fixture against PKNS in the Super League. I feel the break will provide Popovic time to rest and to recuperate and, maybe, to revitalise himself. His teammates have indicated their willingness to give him the space he badly needs.
Obviously, Popovic is not experiencing a fanciful start to life with the Perak team. This explains why the Seladangs’ fans are rather hostile towards him. It is about time that he gets his act together. And with the April transfer looming closer, there is every reason for Popovic to show his worth.