FA Cup Review: Inspired Pahang down defending champs JDT

Pahang produced an inspired performance to overcome reigning champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) 3-1 in the quarter-final first leg of the Malaysia FA Cup at Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan on Saturday.

Kedah were merciless as Tan Cheng Hoe’s side hammered Malaysia Premier League (MPL) club PKNP FC 6-1 while Negeri Sembilan recorded a precious 1-0 win over Sabah at Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu.

MPL side Terengganu failed to take advantage of playing at home when they were held 1-1 by Malaysia Super League’s (MSL) Sarawak at Sultan Nasiruddin Shah Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.

Pahang took a 14th minute lead over JDT when Ahmad Syamim Yahya ghosted past his marker Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham to head in captain Matthew Davies’ cross from the right.

The tie isn’t over yet. We still have to travel to Johor Bahru for the return leg. We need to work on our weaknesses before the match.

- Pahang coach Dollah Salleh

However, JDT were back into the match when centre-back Marcos Antonio equalised from close range following a mistake by Pahang goalkeeper Wan Azraie Wan Teh eight minutes later.

Four minutes after the breather, Brazilian Matheus Alves lobbed the ball over JDT goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi Roslan following a mix-up between the custodian and defender Azrif Nasrulhaq in handling a long ball to hand Pahang the lead.

Former Nigerian international Bright Dike scored Pahang’s third with a grounder into an empty net after a failed attempt by JDT goalkeeper Izham in clearing an Ahmad Syamim corner kick in the 66th minute.

It was a crucial goal for Pahang scored by Dike who came on six minutes earlier for forward Ashaari Samsudin.

Pahang were a better team in the match with six attempts on target compared to JDT’s three.

“I think we did not play so well today. The only difference was that we took our opportunities. Many players are struggling with match fitness following recent injuries and it showed in the closing stage of the game,” said Pahang coach Dollah Salleh.

I am not worried. We are very strong at home and I believe we can score many goals in the return leg.

- JDT coach Benjamin Mora

“The tie isn’t over yet. We still have to travel to Johor Bahru for the return leg. We need to work on our weaknesses before the match.”

JDT coach Benjamin Mora is confident his team will bounce back in the return leg.

“I am not worried. We are very strong at home and I believe we can score many goals in the return leg.

“The team made some individual mistakes today. There was probably pressure but I believe we will come back stronger,” said Mora.

The return leg in Johor Bahru will be on April 23.

MSL leaders Kedah have virtually sealed their semi-final spot following the impressive win over PKNP.

Kedah are virtually through to the FA Cup semis

Ken Ilso scored a brace in the 48th and 90th minutes while other goals were from Fitri Omar (15th), Liridon Krasniqi (46th) and substitute Syafiq Ahmad (86th).

Kedah earned a gift through G. Murugenthiran’s own goal in the 29th minute.

Khairul Asyraf Ramli replied for PKNP in the 84th minute.

Croatian Marko Simic scored his seventh goal of the season in the 26th minute to earn MPL leaders Negeri a win over Sabah.

Argentine Federico Falcone put Terengganu ahead in the 21st minute but Sarawak maintained their composure to level in the 53rd minute through South Korean Lee Jong-ho in the 53rd minute.

Except for the return leg between JDT and Pahang, the other matches will be played on April 21.

Photos: Asiana.my