BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
After guiding Kuala Lumpur (KL) to an effortless 4-0 win over third tier club Kuching FA in their second round FA Cup match on Saturday, head coach Fabio Maciel has admitted his ambition of taking the Hawks to the AFC Champions League by winning the domestic cup competition.
Brazilian star Guilherme de Paula found his scoring touch again in the match that was held at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium, bagging a hat-trick. His compatriot Paulo Josue scored the other goal of the match.
Speaking to the press after the clash, Paulo said he was pleased that his men were able to perform in the competition, which he described as the shorter route to reach the Champions League; Asia's most prestigious continental club competition.
In 2019, 2018 Malaysia Super League champions will receive an automatic slot in the Champions League group stage, while the 2018 FA Cup winners will receive a place in the play-offs.
"After the (league) match against PKNP FC we knew we had to turn our attention towards the FA Cup; the shorter way to the AFC (Champions League). Playing in a cup contest is different as compared to playing in the league; in the league you have time to recover but in the cup you have to keep winning.
"We faced the match as a team, we pressured the opponents and gave them no chance to keep possession. That's why we were able to play well tonight and produce the win, which should bring back my men's confidence (in the league)," said the Brazilian.
When asked why he opted to drop forward Junior Aparecido from the team in order to comply with the maximum four foreigner quota for Malaysian cup competitions, he answered that it is because Junior has not been producing what he requires, although Fabio was quick to defend the former Sarawak and Selangor man.
"I needed to attack in this game. Junior is a fantastic player, but he's not doing well at the moment. When I signed him (in the pre-season) I knew his quality as he had played for the Timor-Leste national team when I coached them.
"It's normal for a footballer to play well for one club, only to not be able to produce the same performance for another team. We're trying to bring his confidence up again.
"I picked the team today because we needed possession, which is something that Irfan (Zakaria) could help with. And in the end I am happy with what the team produced today," he explained.