# Red Eagles ready to face the Red Giants

# Kedah are more hungry to win the Malaysia Cup

# There is more passion in Kedah fans


This year’s Malaysia Cup final between Selangor and Kedah at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday will be one of “pride and passion” although it has gone a little off track.

Newly crowned AFC Cup champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) were the early favourites and so were defending champions Pahang, who won the prestigious silverware in 2013 and last year.

However, Pahang fell by the wayside in the semi-finals to Selangor while JDT, or better known as Southern Tigers, were shown the exit in the quarter-finals by Felda United.

While Selangor will be chasing their “Mission 33” after winning the much sought after football trophy in Malaysia, Kedah have a dream of their own after winning this year’s Premier League title which came with a promotion to the elite Super League next season.

Kedah’s caretaker coach, Ramon Meconte – a Spaniard – who is standing in for Tan Cheng Hoe who is in China pursuing his AFC license – is frank enough to say reaching the final itself is a “bonus” for the team.

In the same breath he was quick to point out that “it does not mean Kedah is throwing in the towel.

“We prefer the underdog tag…it suits fine for a Premier League team against a team that has won the Cup 32 times,” said Meconte whose contract with the Kedah FA as a fitness trainer ends at the end of this month.

Kedah’s march into the final has gripped the northern state and football has even overtaken the UMNO Assembly in terms of discussions in coffeeshops, offices, both private and government sector.

Syazwan Zainon, one of the most consistent players in the Kedah team set the tone by shaving his head bald to fulfill a vow he made if the Red Eagles reach the final.

Kedah were back in training a day after knocking out Super League outfit Felda United 4-3 on aggregate after winning 2-1 at Alor Setar’s Darul Aman Stadium on Sunday. The first-leg semi-final at the Selayang Stadium ended in a 2-2 draw.

Kedah last played in the Malaysia Cup final in 2008 and their opponents were none other than Selangor whom they beat 3-2 to lift the silverware. It meant a lot for Kedah as they retained back-to-back treble titles – a rare achievement in winning the League Cup, FA Cup and the Malaysia Cup in one season.

It is a record Kedah can be proud of and the man who guided the team to the treble was none other than Azraai Khor Abdullah – often described as Kedah’s most successful son as a coach.

And Kedah want to end a seven-year itch by completing a double by winning the Malaysia Cup after winning the Premier League title.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Cheng Hoe will cut short his stay in China and return in time for the final. 

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