* Trouble brewing in Penang over bonus payment
* ‘Pahang and Police are still the favourites’ – Elavarasan
* ‘We are not there just to make up the numbers’ – Elavarasan
Watch out for the Battle of the Ps in Group D in the Malaysia Cup competition which went into top gear on Saturday after defending champions Pahang and PKNS FC got off to a winning start in their opening matches.
Pahang ran out 4-3 winners over Police in Kuantan while PKNS FC scored an emphatic 3-0 win over newly promoted Penang but coach E. Elavarasan still picks defending champions Pahang and Police as the favourites to advance from the group.
The Penang-PKNS encounter at the City Stadium left many questions over Penang’s performance although Penang coach Jacksen Tiago said his team just “lost focus due to off the field distractions” but reports have come out that the players are unhappy with the payment of bonus for gaining promotion to the Super League next season.
But that is not PKNS head coach Elavarasan’s concern.
“My players delivered and that is what we had set out to do. It is a tough group with defending champions Pahang and Police in the same group I would take the two Super League teams as favourites,” said Elavarasan.
But in the same breath Elavarasan was quick to say that PKNS are “not just going to make the numbers” in the group and the Malaysia Cup.
“We will put up our challenge. There is hunger in the team after missing out on a promotion. It will be one match at a time,” added Elavarasan, who team finished fourth in the Premier League.
The Selangor outfit scored through Mohd Nazrin Syamsulbahri (16th), Gabriel Guerra (18th) and Nizam Abu Bakar (56th) for a roaring start to their Malaysia Cup campaign.
PKNS next play Pahang at the Selayang Stadium on Saturday.
Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan was more than pleased with the win over Police but the Elephants were given a run for their money before trooping off 4-3 winners at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan.
“The win would not have come at a better time when we are hit by several injuries. What pleased me was the committed display by my players who gave their best against the odds,” said Zainal.
And Zainal threw the injured Dickson Nwakaeme into the fray in the in the last 10 minutes of play. The Nigerian hitman responded immediately with the winning soon after coming off the bench in the 81st minute.
Zainal hailed national player Azamuddin Akil’s hattrick in his role as a top striker from his usual role on the flanks. The international netted in the third, 35th and 66th minutes.
“He once again proved his worth…he never lets the team down. He did it again when it mattered most.”
Police fought courageously but goals by Dramane Troare (12th), Maldive national skipper Ashfaq Ali (71st) and Celestino Bragance (76th) were not enough for the visitors.
Police face Penang at the Shah Alam Stadium in their second match this Saturday.