The odds are stacked against the Panthers, who must upset defending champions Pahang again – this time in Kuantan – and hope for favourable results elsewhere. Penang coach Jacksen Tiago believes they can repeat their 4-1 win over the Elephants…
Only one slot from Group D is available after Pahang secured qualification with a 3-0 win over PDRM on Tuesday. The Elephants have nine points followed by PKNS (eight points), Penang (five) and PDRM (five).
With PKNS on a plus-four goal difference count, Penang – who have conceded one more goal than they have scored – need PDRM to defeat PKNS and record a high-scoring win themselves.
“We will work on repeating another big win. Stunning Pahang is not impossible if we work hard,” Tiago said after his side’s 1-1 draw with PKNS at the Selayang Stadium on Tuesday.
“We cannot give up just because the odds are slim. My job is to lift the players and I will do that in coming days. We were hopeful of more against PKNS and should have got three points … I think we had the chances to go ahead but couldn’t capitalise on it.”
The visitors took the lead after 16 minutes through South Korean Lee Gil-hoon but PKNS equalised via Alif Haikal, who was left to slot the ball home after Patrick Wleh opened up a defence marshaled by Reinaldo Rodrigues just before the break.
PKNS, who needed a win to sealed qualification to the last eight, were strong in the second half but a wet pitch did not help their cause as they found it difficult in the final third.
Alif could have doubled his tally with a similar goal to his first half equaliser in the 49th minute but the ball slipped away this time despite Penang custodian Sani Anuar Kamsani being well beaten. PKNS also saw Sani make a goal-line save later in the match.
PKNS coach E Elavarasan believes the advantage is still firmly in the Red Ants’ hands but challenged his players to show the second tier side has what it takes to challenge Malaysia Super League (MSL) club PDRM on the final day next week.
“The goal difference count is higher and this gives us a good advantage," he said. “Still, I want us to show we are good. Qualifying for the quarter-finals is something you need work for and I want that attitude from my players.
“Against Penang, it was a bit difficult … as expected in these Cup games, really. The pitch was wet too but this is part and parcel of the game. I was a bit worried in the second half because both teams were searching for goals, leaving the game open. A game-changing moment could have happened for either team.”
PKNS only need a draw to seal qualification. Even if they lose, the Selangor-based club will only miss qualification if they suffer a heavy defeat or Penang record a big win at the Darul Makmur Stadium.
Terengganu still in the hunt
In Group A, LionsXII were made to wait another week to know their quarter-final fate after Ismail Faruqi’s 87th minute strike gave Terengganu a 2-1 win against Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) II in Pasir Gudang.
Hotshot Issey Nakajima-Farran opened scoring in the eighth minute but Singaporean Shahril Ishak drew level for the hosts in the 34th minute. A draw would have meant LionsXII securing at least second place in the group, but it was not to be as Ismail popped up late with his winner.
The Singaporeans top Group A on 10 points followed by Kedah and Terengganu, both on seven, while JDT II have four points. LionsXII visit Terengganu while JDT II host Kedah on the final day.comments