# 10-man Pahang beat Tajikistan’s FC Itiklol 3-1 but go out 5-3 on aggregate
# Hafiz Kamal scores a brace
# Pahang defender Saiful Nizam Miswan gets direct red card
Pahang, despite reduced to 10-men in the second half carved out a 3-1 win over debutants FC Istiklol of Tajikistan in the return-leg AFC Cup quarter-finals at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan on Wednesday.
However, the win was not good enough for the Elephants who crashed out of the semi-finals 5-3 on aggregate, having lost the first-leg 4-0 played in Dushanbe. Dushanbe.
Pahang defender Saiful Nizam Miswan was given a direct red card by referee Abdullah Mohamed Al Halali of Oman for rough play deep into added time in the first half with Pahang leading 1-0 through a Hafiz Kamal header on 30 minutes who finished off a cross from the right by R. Surendran.
Despite the numerical disadvantage Pahang stretched their lead to 2-0 with Hafiz getting his name into the scoresheet again in the 58th minute. He drilled home a grounder after Dickson Nwakaeme had laid the groundwork on the left.
However, Khurshed Makhmudov pulled one back for Istiklol on the hour mark and the crucial away goal made Pahang’s task all the more difficult on a slippery pitch.
Substitute D. Saarvindran hit Pahang’s third goal deep into injury time with a delightful right footed chip that beat Istiklol goalkeeper Stosic Nikola all the way to register a win for pride and dignity.
Johor Darul Takzim is the only team from this region still in contention after making the semi-finals at the expense of Hong Kong’s South China 4-2 on aggregate with a 3-1 win at the Mongkok Stadium on Tuesday. The first-leg in Johor Bahru ended in a 1-1 draw.
In the semifinals JDT will meet Kuwait club Qadsia SC. The first-leg will be played at the Mohammaed Al-Hamad Stadium in Howally, Kuwait on Sept 29. The return-leg will be played at Johor Bahru’s Larkin Stadium on Oct 20.
The Southern Tigers are the first team from Malaysia to feature in the AFC Cup semi-finals.
AFC CUP (QUARTER-FINALS SECOND-LEG)
PAHANG 3 FC ISTIKLOL 1
(FC Istiklol advance to the semi-finals 5-3 on aggregate)