Felda United 2 Kedah 2: Red Eagles confident of reaching final
Malaysia Premier League (MPL) winners Kedah are happy to take home a 2-2 Malaysia Cup semi-final draw with Felda United, and believe the return leg in their own backyard gives them an advantage of reaching their first final since back-to-back trophies in 2007 and 2008.
Having also reached the last four in the previous edition, there is a sense of believe Kedah finally have a squad good enough to take them to the upper echelons of Malaysian football.
At Selayang, Kedah twice went behind but their relentless paid off as Syazwan Zainon constantly tore into Felda left-back Aizul Ridzwan Razali. On the occasion of the goals, the right winger delivered pin-point crosses for Sando Da Silva (36th minute) and Chidi Edeh (63rd minute) to net priceless away goals.
The man-of-match award, however, was reserved for the hosts’ forward, Thiago Augusto Fernandes. The Brazilian’s brace in the 14th and 56th minute took him to the top of the Malaysia Cup goalscoring charts with eight goals. Kedah’s Sandro is second with seven goals.
Head coach Tan Cheng Hoe was away completing his Pro license badges but Kedah showed little sign of missing his presence on the bench as Pequeno occupied the touchline, guiding Kedah to an impressive result against the Malaysia Super League (MSL) heavyweights.
Speaking afterwards, the Spaniard believes Kedah’s track record at the Darul Aman Stadium brings confidence, but noted that if there was one team who could turn the tie around, it was Felda.
The Fighters also drew at home to AFC Cup winners Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in the quarter-final first leg but ended the Southern Tigers’ 40-match unbeaten run at Larkin Stadium in the return leg.
“At this moment, we are in the final. Felda is the best team I have seen in Malaysia this year and are not totally out, but if we score one goal then we have an even greater chance to be in the final,” Pequeno told reporters.
Indeed, Kedah score for fun in Alor Setar. In 16 matches there this year, they have managed three or more goals in seven of them, failing to find the back of the net only three times.
“For us the score now is fantastic because the stats show that we score one or two at home almost every game,” Pequeno continued.
“Winning the MPL was a great thing to happen to Kedah and this is another feather in our cap. Reaching the final would be a great success. This is our way of playing and the fact Tan is not around doesn’t change out style of play.
“But our strategy will change for the second leg because Felda need to score in Darul Aman.”
Kedah will have skipper Baddrol Bakhtiar back for the return leg. Though normally an attacking player, Baddrol has re-invented himself as a holding midfielder and his ability to play pinpoint long passes will test Felda’s defensive resolve.
Image credit: Kedah FA