Pahang stuck twice in the last 10 minutes to seal a remarkable comeback victory and lift the FA Cup
BY MARK DAWSON
Despite this it was Felda who fashioned the games first opportunity on the counter attack, with Zah Rahan nipping in front of a casual Saifulnizam to put himself clear on goal. Although his firm low shot was on target, Khairul Azhan was equal to it, turning it behind.
Soon after this it was the Pahang front four who displayed their danger, with a fine move that ended with Gopinathan drilling a low cross across goal which eluded Felda keeper Farizal Harun, finding Conti at the far post. The Argentine did stretch out to make contact with the ball but could only steer it into the side netting.
On 23 minutes this miss was compounded as Felda took the lead with an Edward Wilson goal out of nothing. Despite there being five Pahang players back behind he and the goal, a cleverly crafted give and go between the Liberian and Indra Putra released the forward who burst into box and scuffed home. The goal demonstrated the danger of standing off Edward and giving him time on the ball, something a vulnerable Razman Roslan struggled with during the first half.
Despite Felda defending with a tactical calm and composure, and keeping the wing threats of Akil and Gopinathan largely quiet, the Elephants still managed to carve out chances and should have been level before the break. Firstly Conti uncharacteristically headed wide with a free header from seven yards out following a short corner routine, before Azidan Sarudin then struck the bar with a header from Akil's cross that he made too sweet a connection with.
At the beginning of the second half both teams import strikers demonstrated their class within minutes of one another. Firstly it was Edward who almost doubled his tally on the night after dodging past Stewart and unleashing a stinging low effort from 20 yards. Only a fine save onto the post by Azhan kept the score down. Following this, despite having little space in the Felda area, Conti then forced a terrific reflex save from Harun with a half-volley scissor kick.
Despite Felda defending well, and nullifying the threat of Pahang's wingmen, with 25 minutes of the match remaining the Fighters visibly tightened up, nervously launching long balls forward as the realization of a first FA Cup success dawning upon them. This presented Pahang with much of the ball in attacking areas, and they were made to pay on 80 minutes as Faizol Hussein drew his team level with a stunning strike from 30 yards. Given space to shoot he hit the ball sweetly with his left foot, giving Harun no chance as the ball rocketed into the top corner.
Although Felda were shocked by the goal, they should have won the trophy in the 88th minute as Haris Safwan was presented with a golden opportunity. It was Indra Putra who found him unmarked with a pinpoint cross only six yards out, but somehow he contrived to plant a free header wide of the goal.
Two minutes later and the drama of the FA Cup reached fever pitch as Pahang snatched the winner from the jaws of defeat. Faizol Hussein was again the creator, swinging a great delivery into the far post where substitute Zesh Rehamn intelligently guided the ball back across goal, allowing an on rushing Dickson to smash into the roof of the net to win the trophy for his team.