A huge banner “This is our Territory” inside the Perak Stadium in Ipoh said it all as Perak staged a magnificent comeback with a 3-0 win in the return-leg FA Cup semi-final to pack off defending champions Pahang 4-3 on aggregate for a place in the final.
Pahang had won the first-leg in Kuantan 3-1 and the Elephants were hot favorites to make the July 27 final. However, the Bos Gauros tore Pahang apart with their hunger to win the match in a 10-minute spell when Brendan Gan opened the flood gates in the 35th minute.
Brendan fired Perak into the lead when he headed home Firdaus Saiyadi corner to beat Pahang keeper Helmi Eliza Elias at the right post.
It was 2-0 after 42 minutes when J. Parthiban picked a through pass from Careca and took off like a gazelle by finishing his blistering run with a delightful left-footed curling shot into the right corner and Helmi was beaten for the second time. 2-2 on aggregate.
Helmi’s nightmare continued when he had to pick up the ball from the back of his net for the third time in the 43rd minute, This time Pahang left back Faisal Rosli tucked the ball into his own net while attempting to clear a cross from the left by Norhakim Hassan and put Perak 4-3 on aggregate.
Perak certainly turned on the heat aptly living up to the banner “This is our Territory” that was hung in the upper terrace of the stadium that was packed to the brim.
A disappointed Pahang coach Dollah Salleh said: “I had told my players that we are not here to defend our two-goal cushion from the first-leg. Instead, the opposite happened and we paid the price for not playing to instructions.”
Dollah also admitted that playing Dickson Nwakaeme was a mistake. The Nigerian hitman played only 30 minutes in the first leg in Kuantan before leaving the field with an injury and was disturbed by the injury.
“Fielding him (Dickson) is my folly,” said Dollah. “He did nothing on the field in Ipoh. Also, the team only started playing football when we were three goals down. It was too late to change the tide.”
For Perak coach Mehmet Durakovic it was “simply fantastic performance from my players” and they gave their best to make up for the first-leg deficit.
Perak will play either Kedah or Felda United in the final. Kedah takes a 1-0 cushion from the first-leg in Alor Setar and the two will meet in the second-leg at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Jengka on Sunday. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH