Pahang will take home an away goal advantage after coming back from a goal down to hold star-studded Johor Darul Takzim to a 1-1 draw in the first-leg FA Cup semi-final match at the Larkin Stadium on Monday.
The night belonged to the Argentine strikers of both teams – Luciano Figueroa (JDT) and Matias Conti (Pahang) – who scored in the 13th and 36th minutes respectively for the stalemate at Larkin.
However, the man in black once again stole the limelight with both teams clearly disappointed with the Zohri Tajudin’s poor handling of the match.
And JDT coach Bojan Hodak summed up his disappointment when he said: “If I talk about poor refereeing I will be fined. If I don’t talk about the referee it means I have no statement on the match.”
JDT took the lead as early as the 13th minute off a set piece when Safiq Rahim confused everyone when he sent a low cross for the unmarked Figueroa t whip in a left footed shot past a sea of legs from out the six-year box.
Pahang also scored from a set piece. A freekick by Azidan Sarudin to the far post found Pahang dangerman Dickson Nwakaeme who sent a looping header across the JDT goalmouth and Conti jumped high to nod home before goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi could recover.
After this JDT had more share of the ball and chances aplenty but poor finishing was the order of the day.
In the 43rd minute Zohri flashed the yellow card to JDT’s Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Pahang’s Saifulnizam Miswan after consulting his linesman for off the incident which nearly led to a free for all after Pahang defender Damion Stewart’s crude tackle sent JDT’s Mahali Jasuli sprawling.
Interestinly, Jamaican Stewart escaped punishment when he was the culprit.
In the 81st minute JDT also introduced their new signing, Argentinian striker Jorge Diaz who received his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) about 45 minutes before the kickoff – replacing Brazilian defender Marcos Santos, who also made his debut on the night.
Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan was more than pleased with the draw as the away goal will give the Elephants the advantage when the return-leg is played in Kuantan on May 30.
“My defenders did their job well to shut out JDT. Getting the away goal is a plsu point but we still have another tough battle in Kuantan,” said Zainal.
JDT finished runners-up in last year’s FA Cup final, losing 1-0 to Kelantan. Pahang were the beaten semi-finalists last year.