Perak waved goodbye to their Malaysia Cup dreams after Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) bare their fangs in the second half of the semi-final second leg at Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium on Saturday. The 3-0 scoreline brought the aggregate to 4-1 in favour of JDT and the Southern Tigers will now face Kedah in the final next month.
The first half finished 0-0 and it was a game of very little chance. Gonzalo Cabrera opened the scoring for JDT but Perak almost got their equaliser through Zaquan Adha, only for the match officials to rule it out for offside.
That became the turning point of the match as Perak heads started to drop and in searching for the important goal to get back into the tie, left themselves too exposed at the back and JDT punished them with further goals from Gabriel Guerra and another Cabrera strike.
"Absolutely not, no way. That result 3-0 was not reflective of the game tonight (Saturday). To be honest, I really feel sorry for my players because they gave 100%. This JDT is a very good side and they haven't lost here for four years. They got fantastic players but at the end of the day, it was not a 3-0 result. It was a bit hard to take,"
"First half they (Perak) were magnificent. Second half you all saw the game. Couple of decisions didn't go our way and that's the game after that," said Mehmet Durakovic after the match.
In a match where Durakovic kept faith with a slew of youngsters that performed admirably in the first leg - Ahmad Khairil Anuar, Shahrul Saad and Kenny Pallraj produced another decent performance but were ultimately undone by the more experienced JDT side.
The Perak head coach remained proud of his players and points to this core of players being ones that the team will look to grow and improve together.
"We were missing five players, we even had two goalkeepers on the bench tonight. We have to take the positives and the positives are that we gave JDT a good fight. The supporters and everyone watching the game would be happy with the effort we put in."
"The players have done a magnificent job the whole year. We trained hard and we believed in ourselves. There's no secret to football, as long as you work hard. You have a look our squad tonight and see how many young players. Beto, Kenny, Azhan and others - not only for Perak but also for Malaysia," added Durakovic.
With the defeat, it will be 10 years since Perak reached the Malaysia Cup final but if the management can keep the group of players together for the new season, they have more than shown that they do have the capability to compete for domestic honours.