Conti turns showstopper to break Kelantan's hearts

El Loco relives the big night where Pahang won their first Malaysia Cup title in 21 years with Matias Conti scoring the only goal of the game at the Shah Alam Stadium.

Argentine striker Matias Conti is an instant hero with Pahang fans. He is having the last laugh, as well and why not?

It was Conti who executed a superb header in the 59th minute from an almost perfect cross by Azamuddin Akil from the right which found the net as 40,000 Pahang fans roared at the Shah Alam Stadium on Sunday.

And it turned out to be the winner for Pahang in their 1-0 win over Kelantan in a Malaysia Cup final thriller - despite the face that the game was played on a wet and slippery pitch because of heavy rain.

The prestigious silverware is back in Kuantan and Conti must be proud that he is part of the Pahang side who made this happen.

Kelantan and their fans' hearts were broken by Conti, who will surely cherish this sweet moment in his playing career, so far.

And Conti, 23, apparently was not even 100 per cent fit because of a heel injury suffered in the return leg of the semi-final against Sarawak in Kuching last weekend.

Once on the pitch, half injured or not, opportunist Conti was always a danger to Kelantan whenever Pahang made an offensive move. 

And that memorable winner was scored after the six-footer positioned himself perfectly to receive the cross by Azamuddin.

Conti, don't forget, had also been playing a big role for Pahang in their success of making the final in first place, after 21 long years.

Forming a good combination with Azamuddin, Conti finished the season in style by scoring 16 goals in all competitions. But the last one, will be the best remembered by Pahang fans and the neutrals.

Pahang were the better side and that led to the goal by Conti. Speedy wingers R. Gopinathan and R. Surendran were creating all sorts of problems for the Kelantan defence with their runs.

Gopinathan, in fact, was the bigger menace. I just don't know how he could have run that fast on a wet pitch. 

It was only after the goal by Conti that Kelantan became deadlier in their desperate bid to find at least the equaliser to force the game into extra-time.

Kelantan, led by 'bulldozer' Dickson Nwakaeme, did create chances but they were frustrated by heroic saves by Pahang goalkeeper Khairul Azhan Khalid.

Yes, unsung Azhan was also one of the stars of the night. Things would have been different if not for him.

Congratulations Pahang. Congratulations dynamic duo Dollah Salleh and Zainal Abidin Hassan.

They deserved to lift the trophy on Sunday, after all the hard work they had put in on the training  ground.

Pahang should be a better outfit next season. They will be hungry for more honours as this success on Sunday is just a start.


Interestingly, they will have another adventure under a new coach in the vastly experienced Steve Darby, who is replacing Bojan Hodak.

Kelantan are poised to continue to be one of  the best in the local football scene under Darby and could bounce back in style next season.