Kedah turn on style to reach Malaysia Cup semis
Negri Sembilan’s brave showing in the first-leg proved to be a false dawn after Kedah ripped apart their defence several times to finish Saturday night 5-0 winners and progress to their third straight Malaysia Cup semi-final appearance.
Tan Cheng Hoe’s men had difficulties breaking Negri’s defence in Paroi but in front of their home fans in Alor Setar, there was simply no stopping Kedah forwards Shane Smeltz and Thiago Fernandes as the Red Eagles cruised to the next round.
The results ensured a repeat of the 2015 final was on the cards as last year’s winners Selangor prevailed 5-3 on aggregate against PKNS. Kedah meet PDRM in the semi-finals while Selangor have a date against giant-killers T-Team
Selangor and Kedah will host the first-leg on September 30 while the return leg takes place immediately after the international break.
Smeltz opened the scoring in the 22th minute and added his second of the night eight minutes later while Fernandes ensured the game was buried by half-time with a third in the 38th minute. The Brazilian hotshot added his second minutes after the break and Kosovan playmaker Liridon Krasniqi put the icing on the cake three minutes from time.
Kedah’s semi-final opponents PDRM suffered a 1-0 loss to Kelantan at Hang Jebat Stadium but their 2-1 away win in the first-leg ensured the Cops progressed on the away goals rule.
Fauzi Pilus’ men were expected to face problems without targetman Guilherme de Paula and tough-tackling right-back K. Reuben, and when Badhri Radzi put the Red Warriors ahead in the first half, there was perhaps an air of optimism of a comeback.
Kelantan custodian Khairul Fahmi Che Mat even saved a spot-kick but the former giants of the East Coast could not find an all-important second goal at the other end.
The biggest shock of the night came at Tun Abdul Razak Stadium after Dilshod Sharofetdinov’s 78th minute strike silenced the Felda United’s crowd as T-Team defied odds to progress 2-1 on aggregate.
The result ended a rather disappointing season for Irfan Bakti Abu Salim’s men as they also failed in their effort to dethrone Johor Darul Ta’zim in the Malaysia Super League (MSL). The Fighters, however, have qualified for the 2017 AFC Cup and that marks progress for the nine-year-old club.