100PLUS.latest# FA Cup final euphoria put on hold as PKNS eye Malaysia Cup berth

By Rizal Abdullah

When 100PLUS Premier League club PKNS FC hit the road on Monday afternoon for the trip to Malacca after a morning training session at Kelana Jaya chief coach E. Elavarasan was not thinking of the May 14 FA Cup final against Johor Darul Takzim.

Instead, Elavarasan is plotting to tighten his team’s grip on making the cut for the Malaysia Cup at the half-way stage of the Premier League. The battle for a top five place in the 12-team league begins at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca on Tuesday when they are at home to Kuantan FA.

PKNS FC are currently fourth in the table with 16 points after nine matches – ahead of fifth-placed JDT on goal difference, Newcomers Malacca United top the league with 21 points followed by Negri Sembilan and Kuala Lumpur in second and third place with 18 points each.

“We cannot afford to drop points against Kuantan. It is getting tight for a top five finish and a place in the Malaysia Cup,” said Elavarasan.

Kuantan are in sixth spot with 14 points while DRB Hicom are seventh with 13 points with an eye on the Malaysia Cup.

This year’s the format for Malaysia Cup has been changed. The top 11 teams in the Super League and the top in the Premier League will make the cut for the Malaysia Cup at the half-way stage of the league.

“The FA Cup will take a back seat for now. Our focus is on qualifying for the Malaysia Cup. We need to beat Kuantan and also DRB-Hicom on May 17 after the FA Cup,” added Elavarasan.

PKNS FC created club history by qualifying for their first FA Cup final and along the way knocked out Super League outfits like Terengganu, Felda United and took care of Perak in the two-leg semi-finals after a 2-1 in Ipoh which saw the Ants advance to the final 4-3 on aggregate.

Many had written off PKNS after Perak’s 2-2 draw away at the Hang Jebat Stadium. But PKNS put that to rest with a scintillating performance at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh – the very place wher Perak stunned Super League leaders Felda United 2-1 in a league match earlier.

Elavarasan is once again counting on his foreign imports – who have not let him down – Argentine strikers Gabriel Guerra and Juan Manuel Cobelli and centreback Gonzalo Sato plus Chile-born Palestine international Matias Jadue Hadwa. 

“I must admit that we have strength in our foreigners. They have played a pivotal role in PKNS reaching the FA Cup final. It is a matter of how you utilise them in your match strategies,” said Elavarasan.

Guerra is PKNS top scorer in the league with nine goals and is also the top scorer in the Premier League. The Argentine hitman is also the top scorer for PKNS in the FA Cup with five goals – the same as JDT’s Jorge Pereyra Diaz. Cobelli and Hadwa have three goals each in the FA.

“We will not pull any punches against Kuantan…it is a match we need to win to keep our Malaysia Cup hopes alive and keep pace with the leaders.

“After the Kuantan match we will switch our focus to the FA Cup and embark on a different mission,” added Elavarasan.

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