* Pahang can overturn the deficit with a full squad
Defending champions Pahang are still very much in the running – their sights firmly set on not only making the Malaysia Cup final but also on retaining the silverware they won last year by beating Kelantan 1-0 in the final through a Matias Conti goal at the Shah Alam Stadium.
And Conti scored an all-important away goal in Pahang’s 3-1 defeat to Premier League outfit Kedah in the first-leg semi-final at Alor Star’s Darulaman Stadium last Sunday.
Tomorrow, the Red Eagles, as Kedah are now known, have high hopes of reaching their first Malaysia Cup final since 2008. However, Pahang are quitely confident of overturning the two-goal disadvantage with coach Zainal Abidin Hassan counting the Elephants to ride on the fanatical support from the home fans.
Zainal, who guided Pahang to the FA Cup title this year with a 2-1 win over Police in the final, has at his full squad at his disposal with the rerturn of suspended striker Dickson Nwakaeme and defender Damion Stewart plus goalkeeper Nasril Nourdin.
The former internaational will finalise his first team later tonight and has not decided on his foreign quota who will start the match. Zainal can only start with three of them and with defender Zesh Rehman (Pakistan), also in good form in the Malaysia Cup, Zainal has a headache on deciding on the foreigners.
Nigerian striker Nwakaeme, Argentine hit-man Conti and Jamaican defender Stewart have also never let the Elephants down in the hour of need.
“I have a bunch of fighters who are not only right frame of mind but raring to go against Kedah. We expected Kedaah to come at us after they knocked out Kelantan in the quaarter-finals. The young Kedah side delivered in front of their fans and now it is our turn to deliver in front of our fans,” said Zainal.
“The one away goal will drive us on. They players are aware that we should not allow Kedah to score against us in Kuantan. We have come back from the ‘dead’ before snf there is no reasons why we cannot do it this time around.”
There was no Deepavali break for Pahang. R. Gopinathan and R. Surendran, joined the rest of their teammates in training on Deepavali day instead of spending time with their loved ones to celebrate the Festival of Lights – to show that the Elephants are united and embark on a mission to keep their Malaysia Cup hopes alive.