Putting the disappointment of the Malaysia Cup final defeat to Perak aside Terengganu head coach Irfan Bakti has vowed to come back stronger next season – with minimal changes to the team.

The Turtles fell to a heartbreaking 4-1 defeat on penalties after extra time failed to break a 3-3 deadlock at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday in a final which was marred by poor refereeing by Suresh Jayaraman.

Suresh has been drawing flak from all quarters for his poor handling of the biggie which saw both sides reduced to 10 players.

Terengganu seemed to be cruising to the much sought after silverware in Malaysian football after taking a 2-0 lead at halftime with a brace by Ivory Coast striker Kipre Chetche. However, all that changed when Perak hit back with
goals by Firdaus Sayadi and Brendan Gan to force extra time.

“We cannot harp on the heartbreaking defeat…this happens in football. It was not our day as luck swung to Perak,” said Irfan from Shah Alam on Sunday.

“Terengganu got to pick up the pieces and look towards next season with renewed optimism. We got to ‘rebuild’ the team with minimal changes. This is the team of the future and we can go far.

“You can revamp the team and start all over again. There will be some changes but only a handful. The foreign players will be offered a new contract and we will start negotiations soon.”

Irfan gave broad hints that Chetche, English-born Lee Tuck, Cambodian international Thierry Chanta Bin (midfield) and Serbian defender Igor Zonjic will be retained. The only exception is Korean striker Do Dong-hyun who will be released.

The 67-year-old Irfan received several offers from other teams for the new season but the former international who “loves Terengganu” has signed a new contract to remain with the Turtles for another season.

“I love challenges,” added the widely traveled Irfan. RIZAL ABDULLAH 

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