Kelantan are favourites but Conti can break their hearts

El Loco takes an eye off Spanish football and pips Matias Conti as Pahang's trump card to win their first Malaysia Cup in 21 years this Sunday at the Shah Alam Stadium.

HE may not be the legendary Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta but Matias Conti is a key figure for Pahang in their success of making the 2013 Malaysia Cup final this season.

That's why Pahang coach Dollah Salleh and manager Zainal Abidin Hassan are praying hard that Conti will be fit enough to play against the defending champions Kelantan at the Shah Alam Stadium this Sunday.

The 23-year-old Conti is recovering from a heel problem suffered in the semifinal second leg against Sarawak last Saturday in Kuching.

Pahang's chances of winning the Malaysia Cup after 21 long years will be better if he is on the pitch.

Conti, who has not received much attention from the press before, is not really that kind of an Argentine attacker who can take on two, three defenders but he is dangerous in the box given the opportunities.

He is a sort of an opportunist, so to speak.

Conti is bad news to even the to best of defences in the M-League since joining Pahang from Tristan Suarez.

And he is effective when it comes to aerial battles because he is a six-footer - a rare height for an Argentine footballer really.

With Kelantan's influential centre-back Obinna Nwaneri suspended, Conti can create havoc in the box using his height and physical strength.

With speedy wingers R. Gopinathan and R. Surendren poised to deliver crosses, the Kelantan defence can expect some anxious moments from Conti.

Conti has also built up this good understanding with fellow striker Azamuddin Akil, who has the pace too.

On top of that, Conti has scored creditable eight goals in the Malaysia Cup - with a total of 15 in all competitions.

That's why the 'dynamic duo' of Dollah and Zainal, along with the Pahang supporters are hoping to see Conti to be at least 70 per cent fit on Sunday.

The Argentine can be the match winner.  

Well, Conti is praying even harder that he can recover fully as he want to help Pahang lifting the prestigious trophy in front of 80,000 fans or so on Sunday.

It will be frustrating if he turns out to a mere spectator at the gigantic Shah Alam Stadium.

Conti began his senior career with Argentine Primera Division Velez Sarsfield in 2009 but he did not make his mark with this club for a simple reason - there are so many talented attackers in Argentina, of course.

Then he joined Deportivo Merio in 2011 before leaving for Tristan Suarez the following year.

Nonetheless, Dollah has prepared a 'plan B' just in case Conti cannot recover on time. And one option is to play Fauzi Roslan in his place.

It was Fauzi who struck the crucial equaliser in the 1-1 draw in Kuching. This means he is well-prepared to handle his role upfront.

Who does not want to play in a final?

In-form Kelantan, with skipper Badhri Radzi and Shakir Shaari leading the cast, are favourites to lift the trophy but Pahang may just send them home to Kota Baru empty-handed if Conti take the field.

All said, expect a thriller on Sunday. Don't miss it.