FourFourTwo takes a look at how the Johor Darul Ta'zim and PKNS reached the final...
PKNS’ fairytale adventure continues with a date against in-form Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) on Saturday. The journey was not that straightforward and FourFourTwo recaps how both teams are this close to the finishing line.
Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT)
Round of 32 (UiTM 0-5 JDT)
The Southern Tigers showed intent with convincing wins over UiTM and Negri Sembilan in their opening rounds.
The trip to university side UiTM was not expected to pose JDT much problems but a heavy downpour prior to kick-off threatened to disrupt playing conditions.
Amri Yahyah’s 13th-minute strike was the highlight of the opening third but by the time the half-time whistle was blown, JDT were 4-0 up.
Jorge Pereyra Diaz scored the fifth with a shot that bounced in after hitting the underside of the crossbar in the 71st minute and it could have been six in the 85th minute but Juan Martin Lucero – then searching his first goal for the club – had his penalty saved by Pavel Matiash.
Last 16 (JDT 4-1 Negri Sembilan)
JDT raced to a two-goal lead against Negri within the first 10 minutes in the following round but had to wait until the 63rd minute for Diaz to knock in their third.
Australian Andrew Nabbout pulled one back three minutes later but JDT never looked threatened and restored a three-goal advantage through Diaz in stoppage time.
Quarter-final (JDT beat PDRM 6-2 on aggregate)
The club’s first great challenge came in the quarter-final where PDRM proved a tough nut to crack in the first leg and Lucero’s penalty strike proved to be the only goal in Malacca.
However, Mario Gomez’ men showed what they were made of in the second leg, racing to a 4-0 lead by half-time.
PDRM pulled two back in the second half but Lucero’s 66th minute goal shelved any thought of a miraculous comeback by Fauzi Pilus’ side.
Semi-final (JDT beat Kedah 4-3 on aggregate)
JDT finally met their match in the last four as 2015 Malaysia Cup winners Kedah were determined to continue their rise under former Malaysian assistant coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
The Red Eagles bossed the first leg with Liridon Krasniqi running circles around Safiq Rahim and Hariss Harun throughout the match while Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik protected the back four.
Kedah prevailed 2-1 to hand JDT their first domestic defeat in 2016 but Lucero’s first-half equaliser gave JDT a lifeline.
JDT dominated the second leg in the absence of Krasniqi, Amirul and Sandro da Silva Mendonca.
Diaz and Lucero’s goals in either half reversed the deficit but Ahmad Fakri Saarani got Kedah an away goal, threatening to stretch the match to extra time.
Diaz scored his seventh FA Cup goal – the tournament’s best – moments before the end of regular time to book a date with PKNS in the final.