* I accept defeat but not ‘kata kata kesat (harsh words)”
* We lacked depth on the bench
COACH Irfan Bakti was quick to admit that “lack of depth” was the contributing factor on Felda United’s failure to reach the Malaysia Cup final ahead of Johor Darul Takzim after the Southern Tigers advanced to the Nov 1 final 6-5 on aggregate.
Felda won the first-leg 4-3 at Selayang last Sunday but JDT triumphed 3-1 in the second-leg played at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru on Saturday.
“We lacked depth and this was a major contributing on our failure to reach the Malaysia Cup final. Still, I am very proud of my players and our achievements this season,” said Irfan, referring to Felda gaining promotion to the Super League in 2015 after finishing runners-up in the Premier League behind champions Police and runners-up to Pahang in the FA Cup, losing the final 2-1.
But the widely travelled Irfan could not hide his disappointment on what happened during a training session at the Seri Gelam Complex in Johor Bahru on Friday when about 100 JDT supporters arrived with banners, flares and smoke bombs.
“I accept provocation and banners (“Welcome to Hell” and “No Way Out”) and even the flares and smoke bombs but I was hurt with the ‘kata kata kesat’ (harsh words). The words were just too harsh and it hurt. I am still hurt with what was said,” said Irfan.
In the same breath, Irfan pointed out that Felda will not file any official complaint to the FA of Malaysia (FAM) on what happened at Seri Gelam.
On the defeat to JDT at the Larkin Stadium, Irfan said it reflected his team’s lack of depth, especially on the bench.
“We should have won the first-leg but failed to nail it in Selayang. It has been a fairly good season for the team. We gained promotion to the Super League and finished runners-up in the FA Cup. And to reach the Malaysia Cup semi-finals is itself an achievement for Felda.
“There will be some changes and we will beef up the departments that need to be strengthened. The management is pleased with what we achieved this season and look at better things to come next season when we play in the Super League,” added the former Perlis, Terengganu and Selangor coach who also had a coaching stint in Indonesia.
Felda also saw two of their veterans players – defender Shukor Adan and midfielder Indra Putra Mahayuddin – earning national call ups for the AFF Suzuki Cup which will be played from Nov 22 – Dec 20.