* Paulo Rangel is back from suspension to beef up Terengganu strike force
* Issey Nakajima to be given a late fitness test for back injury
* ‘We will play our normal but Terengganu is very strong at home’ – Fandi Ahmad
In Terengganu chief coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim’s own words “there is much hype” for Saturday’s return-leg FA Cup semi-final match against Singapore outfit Lions XII at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium – Terengganu’s new home venue from now on.
And the new stadium in Gong Badak is a cause for concern for Lions XII coach Fandi Ahmad who is expecting a huge crowd at the stadium to cheer the Turtles who are confident of turning wiping out the Singapore team’s one-goal cushion from the 2-1 win at the Jalan Besar Stadium last Saturday.
Rahman did not hide the fact that the away goal Gustavo Lopez scored at the Jalan Besar Stadium from a freekick is indeed Terengganu’s lifeline and the Turtles hope to ride on that. Confidence has also taken an upturn for the return-leg with the return of Brazilian hitman Paulo Rangel who missed the first-leg due to a one-match suspension for two-yellow card offences.
“I must admit that Rangel’s return is big boost to the team, especially upfront. However, I am not sure if Issey Nakajima will get to play although he has resumed training. He will be given a late fitness test before I decide on my first team…but no matter what there confidence in the team is high,” said Cikgu, as he is popularly known in the football fraternity, from Kuala Terengganu.
“There is a lot of hype on the match against Lions. Everybody is talking about the match every where. With the match being played at the new stadium which is much bigger some 35,000 fans will be there to cheer them (Terengganu).
“It will be a fantastic match. The Lions will not have it easy although they won 2-1 at home. We should have secured at least a draw in that match but we have not lost hope. There is still another round of the battle to be won.”
Fandi, who is without a number of his regulars who are with the Singapore team currently training in Japan for the SEA Games – among them are midfielders Faris Ramli and Christopher van Huizen and defender Shakir Hamzah.
“We will not pull any chances. We will play our normal game and go for an early goal to rattle Terengganu,” said Fandi from Kuala Terengganu. The Lions arrived in the East Coast state on Thursday.
“I am aware that Terengganu have an away goal but we will go for an early goal to get into rhythm for the tough match. Terengganu are very strong side and what more when you play them away.”
In the first-leg at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Gustavo Lopez scored on 39 minutes to throw a lifeline for the Turtles for the return-leg after the Singapore outfit grabbed a 2-0 by the 34th minute with goals by Khairul Nizam Kamal and Faris Ramli.