Irfan Bakti's charges look set to spring a surprise against favorites, Pahang in the highly anticipated FA Cup finale
BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
The first piece of silverware in Malaysian football on offer in 2014 and it’s the FA Cup final. Coincidentally, last year’s Malaysia Cup winner will again feature in the very stadium that they won it in. Pahang will be looking to repeat their feat at Shah Alam Stadium just 6 months after they won the aforementioned cup there. Felda United stands between them and the chance for the Elephants to stomp their way to another trophy.
Ironically, both teams knocked out the participants of the 2013 final in the semi-final stage. Pahang dismissed off Johor Darul Ta’zim with a 2-1 aggregate score, wining the home return leg after drawing the first leg away. Meanwhile, the newly named “Fighter” could only hold Kelantan to a draw in both legs but went through by virtue of scoring a goal more at Kota Bahru.
Despite Felda supposedly being the underdogs, just because they are playing in a division lower than their opponents, this Premier League side should not be underestimated. That is because Irfan Bakti possesses many influential players with wealth of experiences to guide the more nervous team mates. Shukor Adan, Indra Putra Mahayuddin and Shahrulnizam Mustapha are the experienced heads in the team and Irfan will be counting on them to lead the team.
Felda’s hotshot striker, Edward Junior Wilson produced the goods in both semi-final encounter against Kelantan and have scored hatful of goals in Felda’s league campaign, will no doubt be the main danger man for the club side.
As for Pahang, they will most likely parade their biggest stars and best starting XI. However, the big question remain for Zainal Abidin Hassan on which 3 foreign players to start with. Zesh Rehman has often been the one to miss out in recent time as Damion Stewart and Razman Razlan continues their wonderful partnership from last season. This should mean that Dickson Nwakaeme will be hoping to get more playing time than the last 5 minutes he had in the second leg against JDT.
Zainal will want to see his midfield general, Hafiz Kamal asserting himself in the middle of the pitch. If Hafiz has the ability to dictate games as well as being more than usual from set piece situations. It still remains to be seen whether Pahang’s semi-final hero, Faizol Hussain will get to retain his place or will Azidan Sarudin be restored to the line-up.
While the arena may not be the supposedly best stadium in the country, both teams will not be using that as an excuse. Both sides will want to start on the right foot and not chase the game at any period of the match. Expect a cagey final but hopefully one which will spark into life to give the expectant crowd, a match to remember.