* Elephants trampled by the Red Warriors in Kota Bahru
Defending champions Pahang were knocked out of the FA Cup by Kelantan – thanks to a double strike by substitute Nigerian Austin as the Red Warriors stunned the Elephants with a 3-1 win in the second-leg semi-final at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Bahru on Saturday.
Kelantan will now face Singapore outfit Lions XII in the final on May 23. Fandi Ahmad’s side tasted sweet victory at the Terengganu’s new home venue – the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Gong Badak on a night which saw the homesters lose two of their key foreign players – Paulo Rangel and Gustavo Lopez.
Rangel was the first to get the sack followed by Lopez in the dying minutes of the game. Things got heated up when referee Amirul Izwan Yacob was shoved and pushed by the duo – and it was a high price to pay on a night when the referee disallowed what looked like a legitimate goal by Nordin Alias after TV replays showed that the Terengganu players was on side.
Both matches were shown live on television.
And football fans simply saw double at the Sultan Mizan Stadium with Lions XII striker Khairul Amri helping himself to a brace with the first coming on 18 minutes to give the visitors a head start. He displayed his football skills when he trapped the ball with right foot and then took a step and turned to unleash a left footer past Terengganu keeper Sharbinee Allawee.
A looping header by Rangel foxed Lions’ goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud as the ball dipped into goal – thinking that the ball was going out to make it 1-1 on the night. However. Khairul restored his team’s lead with a delightful left footed attempt from outside the box that hit the underside of the bar and bounced into the nett. Lions 2-1.
It was Rangel’s turn to hit a double when he converted a penalty in injury in the first-half to make it 2-2 before national striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha executed a volley past Izwan for Terengganu’s third goal on 60 minutes.
Then came the Nordin’s disallowed goal in injury time and Fandi Ahmad’s team will be fighting for the silverware against another East Coast football giant.
In Kota Bahru, Kelantan chief coach Azraai Khor Abdullah played his cards well and weave his magic when he substituted skipper Badhri Radzi with Austin Amutu and the Nigerian showed why he is an asset to the team – finding the net two minutes later to give Kelantan a 2-1 lead on 75 minutes
Amutu was no done yet as he got his double in injury time for a 3-1 win and place in the final 3-2 on aggregate. Kelantan had duly taken the lead on 18 minutes when Wan Zarulnizam Zakaria first timed an inch perfect cross from the right by Wan Zack Haikal. Kelantan 1-0 on the night and 1-1 on aggregate.
Then came the disaster for Pahang when international Azamuddin Akil was sent for an early shower on 34 minutes with a direct red card for elbowing Wan Zack in an off the ball incident.
Pahang were back in front 2-1 on aggregate when R. Gopinathan made up for his missed chances to beat Khairul Fahmi Che Mat with a grounder into the far corner off a pass by Dickson Nwakaeme in the 58th minute.
Amutu took over after coming off the bench and destroyed the Elephants with his clinical finishing. While Azraai celebrates his counter part Zainal will be searching for answers for surrendering the silverware after knocking out star studded Johor Darul Takzim in the second round.
FA Cup semi-finals 2nd leg (May 16)
KELANTAN 3 PAHANG 1
(Kelantan advance 3-2 on aggregate)
TERENGGANU 3 LIONS XII 2
(Aggregate 4-4, Lions advance on away goals)