Defending champions Pahang take a two-goal cushion into the second-leg FA Cup semi-final match against Perak at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh on Saturday having won the first-leg in Kuantan 3-1.
News filtering in from Ipoh that Perak will be without their new signing Ronaldo Henrique Silva (suspension) and Leandro Dos Santos (family matters) has given Pahang added confidence. However, it stops at that for Perak coach Mehmet Durakovic.
The Australian, however, is quietly confident that his Bos Gauros are capable of turning things around despite the handicaps even when his Pahang counterpart Dollah Salleh rested his first team players in a league match against Selangor in a mid-week match. Selangor thrashed Pahang 5-2 at the Shah Alam Stadium.
“The league title was not in our grasp and I took the gamble to field the reserves against Selangor. For the FA Cup, we will have the first team and I am confident we will achieve the desired result to make the final,” said Dollah.
The Elephants will once again count on the tried and tested Dickson Nwakaeme and new signing Lazarus Kaimbi. The Namibian has struck a fine partnership with the Nigerian who lasted only 30 minutes in the first leg when he was forced to leave the field with an injury.
The talk of the 3-1 win in Kuantan, however, was French defender Herold Goulon who scored a gem of a goal in added time – a freekick from inside his own half some 50 meters out that dipped into the Perak net that caught keeper Hafizul Hakim Khairul Nizam Jothy off guard – which became a worldwide hit and has been nominated for the Fifa Puskas Award by the FA of Malaysia.
Goulon also scored Pahang’s opening goal while Gambia-born naturalized Malaysian Mohamadou Sumareh got the second.
The wonder goal aside, Pahang need an early goal to put the pressure on the Malaysia Cup champions. Dollah has called on his players “not to lose focus” as Perak’s J. Partiban threw his team a lifeline with an away goal.
The Bos Gauros was given an added boost when Perak FA president Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, who is also the Perak Mentri Besar, promised the team a bonus of the team reaches the final.
He also promised another bonus for the Perak if the team can bring back the silverware last won in 2004. RIZAL ABDULLAH