* ‘Tough but we are ready to battle’ – Zainal
* ‘We did not create chances against Perak and this is worrying’ – Zainal
The result in Kota Bahru was a like breath of fresh air for Pahang coach Pahang Zainal Abidin Hassan and his Elephants on Saturday night – on a night when Kelantan pulled off a stunning upset against Johor Darul Takzim.
Although Pahang could only manage a 1-1 draw against Perak in Ipoh the one point turned out to be like a “precious diamond” when news from Kota Bahru trickled in – a humiliating 4-1 bashing for defending champions JDT.
The Red Warriors sent the Southern Tigers back with their tails between their legs and Pahang are now back on the top of the league table – thanks to having scored more goals although both teams are tied on 43 points each and identical goal difference of plus 16. Pahang’s goal tally is 40-24 while JDT’s is 31-15.
“The run in for the league title has developed into a very interesting affair. Now that we are back on top we have our work cut out for us…it does not matter what separates the first and second placed teams. We are given a second bite at the cherry to seal the title.
“The last two matches are not easy in any way but we are geared towards winning both,” said Zainal, admitting that it was “not the best of performance by Pahang” in Ipoh.
Pahang will be at home to Felda United on Wednesday and complete their league fixtures with a tough away match against Terengganu on Aug 22.
“We dropped five important points (4-2 defeat to Lions XII and the draw against Perak) and both were away matches. This itself is good enough to spell our mission, a tough and difficult one.
“The match against Perak was not up to my expectations. We failed to create chances and this is a cause for concern. Our mission to (to win the title) lies in our own hands.”
Against Perak dead ball specialist Hafiz Kamal gave Pahang the lead after 31 minutes but Bobby Gonzales made it all square on 79 minutes which left Zainal a frustrated man, knowing that a win in Ipoh would have given his team the plus points.
JDT too have a daunting task although they have a home match against Perak this Wednesday. The wounded Tigers are expected to bounce back with vengeance but the young Perak side could be a handful for Mario Gomez and his charges.
JDT’s final league match is even more tougher when they travel away to face Felda United on Aug 22.