It's has been decided, Perak will not be able to field influential Leandro Dos Santos in the second leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-final clash against Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) on Saturday.
The Brazilian has been a key figure for Perak in the midfield since joining the team midway through this season. Having struck up a working partnership alongside Hafiz Kamal at the base of the midfield, his nous and experience will be sorely missed in the second leg.
Perak's head coach, Mehmet Durakovic had been hoping that Leandro would be able to find his fitness after missing out in the first leg in Ipoh last Sunday, but that hope has been dashed prior to the team's departure to Johor Bahru on Friday.
"Leandro trained this morning with us. He did most of the training session with us but towards the end, he pulled out because he was a bit sore. So we'll not risk him, he's not 100%. He's been a fantastic player for us in the second half of the season like everybody else."
"If you're not 100%, you can't go onto the pitch especially in such an important game away to JDT," said Durakovic to Goal at the team hotel in Johor Bahru.
Leandro's place and that of the similarly injured Hafiz were taken by Kenny Pallraj and Shahrul Saad in the 1-1 draw at Perak Stadium where both players performed admirably against the might of JDT's midfield.
The players rose to the occasion that night and Durakovic has no qualms nor worries to employ the same at Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium on Saturday. The Australian is confident that his set of players will draw plenty of confidence from the first outing.
"The players that came in did a fantastic job in front of a full house. We have not been in the semi-final for the last 10 years. It's a fantastic effort from everyone. It's not easy when you have so many senior players missing. We're missing 5 players who are very important for the team."
"It's not going to be be easy but it's 90 minutes to prove to everyone that we're not a bad team even though we're missing so many players. We'll give it our best shot and try to win the game. We all know JDT are very good side, especially at home. They have everything. Basically they are a different class to everybody else. I think every club or coach would strive to do something similar to JDT."
"Financially we don't have the same as JDT, in terms of the players and the facilities. But you don't know. Last time we came here, we gave them a good account. As long as our players give 100% like they did in Ipoh, I'll be very happy," added Durakovic.
Perak will need to score in the second leg to have any chance of going through to the showpiece final as JDT currently holds the advantage with the solitary goal they scored in Ipoh. The match will only go to extra time if the score is tied at 1-1, but any other score will see the match being completed in normal time.