Pahang and Johor Darul Ta'zim lock horns once again in the semi-finals of the Malaysia FA Cup, battling it out for a coveted final spot
BY NIK AFIQ Follow on Twitter
Mahali - Aidil (c) - Fadhli - Fazly
Shakir - Safiq - Azwan - Amri
Miswan - Stewart - Rehman – Roslan
Gopinathan - Kamal – Azidan – Akil
F. Roslan - Conti
When it comes to Johor Darul Ta'zim and Pahang, their rivalry started when both teams faced off in the semi-finals of the FA Cup last season, with JDT going through to the final on away goals. As fate would have it they have been drawn against each other at the same stage this season, with Pahang looking to gain revenge for their 2013 defeat.
JDT's story this season is very similar to last year, as many inside and outside the club had high expectations for the team, however the playing staff have yet to show their true strength. Not really performing at the highest level, their star-studded team will need to win at least one trophy if they want to make sure the investment made by their owners in the off-season has at least partly paid off.
Both of their local strikers, Norshahrul and Safee Sali, are not high in confidence. Norshahrul was left out of the national squad recently, while Safee Sali missed a penalty that blew Malaysia's chances of winning the game against the Philippines. Both of them will need to be at their sharpest if they want to break down Pahang's stubborn defence, led by Damion Stewart and goalkeeper Khairul Azhan.
For Pahang, their form in the league has been terrific, with their poor start to the season almost completely forgotten following Zainal Abidin Hassan taking charge of the team. Their fortunes have turned after some impressive performances and they now lead the Super League, they come into this game with only one defeat in their last nine games.
Their away forms is not completely perfect, but if their midfield and defenders can do their well against JDT, it might give a chance for their strikers to snatch an important away goal in advance of the second leg in Kuantan.
Matias Conti has been in superb form, and his partnership with Dickson Nwakaeme will be crucial over the two legs if they want to make it through to the final. Midfielder Hafiz Kamal has been one of many squad members who have insisted that their team are determined to beat JDT this time around, and make it to the final this year.