* Nwakaeme scores a hattrick while Saarvindran hits a brace in 7-4 win
* Nigerian ace takes his AFC Cup tally to six
* South China top group with unbeaten record after 3-0 win over Global FC
Pahang are almost there in the Round of 16 in the AFC Cup from Group G after a crushing 7-4 win over Myanmar’s Yadanarbon FC at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan on Wednesday.
The Elephants now need only one point from their last group match – which is against Global FC of Philippines in Manila on May 13. South China remained on top of Group G after a 3-0 win over Global FC in Hong Kong.
Substitute Cheng Lai Hin South China swung the match in South China’s favour with the opening goal on 40 minutes – a minute after coming on for Lau Cheuk Hin. Goals by Bojan Malisic (55th) and Daniel McBreen (90th) sealed South China’s win which kept them on the top of the table with 15 points from five matches.
Pahang are second in the table with seven points which Global FC have four and Yandanarbon last with only three points.
It was a night when Pahang’s Nigerian ace Dickson Nwakaeme helped himself to a grand hattrick to take his tally in the AFC Cup but it was a night when he also muffed equal number of goal scoring chances.
“I happy with the Pahang’s win because we needed the three points badly to stay in the hunt…but I am not happy with my performance although I scored a hattrick. I missed an equal number of chances,” said Nwakaeme who has scored 12 goals for the Elephants in all competitions.
“Pahang is settling down as a team and I believe we will do well this season. We are still in the running in all competitions and to remain in the AFC Cup is a big boost.”
Nwakaeme opened the floodgates for Pahang as early the seventh minute when he trapped the ball with his right foot from a cross on the right, made a quick turn and drilled home a low shot into the Yadanarbon net.
Nwakaeme turned provider in the 18th minute for Argentine hitman Matias Conti to blast the ball past Yadanarbon goalkeeper and skipper Thiha Si Thu. Yadanarbon defender Happiness Okpechi had a miserable game and found it tough containing Nwakaeme’s brute physical strength and was responsible for two Pahang goals.
Nwakaeme got his second on 32 minutes to put Pahang 3-0 up but the visitors pulled one back through Djedje Djawa just before the halftime whistle.
Substitute D. Saavindran got his first AFC Cup goal with the first touch of the ball on 48 minutes when he drilled the ball between the Si Thu’s legs for a 4-1 lead but Yadanarbon were not giving up and reduced the deficit with a stunning effort from Hlaing Bo Bo when his curling left footer sailed past Pahang keeper Khairul Azhan.
Nwakaeme completed his hattrick a minute later only to see Yadanarbon make it 5-3 with another stunner from Bo Bo in the 68th minute. Pahang moved further ahead with substitute Azidan Sarudin setting up Hafiz Kamal for the finishing touches. Two minutes later Saarvindran got his second. Pahang 7-3.
Still Yadanarbon never gave up and Win Naing Soe got his team’s fourth in injury time.
Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan admitted that he was surprised with the big score but pleased with the three points that his team needed badly to remain in contention.
“We scored seven but also conceded four. I must say that my players are tired with the tight schedule but they gave a committed performance. They did not disappoint the home fans,” said Zainal after the match.
PAHANG 7 YADANARBON FC 4
SOUTH CHINA 3 GLOBAL FC 0