Sathianathan downplays Felda's home advantage and recent record ahead of Kedah clash
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Ahead of their first leg Malaysia Cup semi-final match against Kedah this Sunday, Felda United boss Sathianathan Bhaskaran has denied that his side have the advantage due to their recent head-to-head record.
The two sides have met twice this season, both in the Super League, with the match in Jengka ending in a 1-1 draw and the clash in Alor Star won by the visitors 3-1.
According to the former Malaysia head coach, their 3-1 away win in September only happened because the Red Eagles were without their key players at the time.
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"Of course at the time we were buoyed by our win over PKNP FC (in the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals), but Kedah were also playing without four of their Malaysia internationals and this affected their gameplay.
"But this time around, I'm confident they will be able to field their first eleven. And remember, they held us to a 1-1 draw at home earlier in the season. It's still a 50-50 match.
"We lost twice (at home this season); against Pulau Pinang and PKNP. We need to be careful as Kedah are a much tougher opponent than the two sides.
"The core Kedah squad has been retained for the past three, four years and they've been playing together for a long time. That's the edge they have," he remarked when met by the press on Friday.
When asked about his plan for the first leg match on Sunday, to be held at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium, Sathianathan responded that it is simply to win.
"Our plan is simply to win at home, instead of worrying about the margin and such.
"But we also have to avoid losing like how we lost against PKNP with a 3-1 scoreline (first leg Malaysia Cup quarter-final). If that were to happen against Kedah, there'd be no way we'll get to come back into the match, that's quaranteed," he revealed.
On squad availability, he said that only midfielder Stuart Wark is out of contention, due to an injury, but he's still careful to avoid getting any of his men hurt in training before Sunday.
"We've been preparing for this match as soon as we won the quarter-final tie, but it has been affected somewhat by Stuart's injury.
"But everybody else is fit and available, I just need to be careful in today and Saturday's training so as to not get anyone else injured. However we still need to train, so it's down to luck, really," responded the former Kelantan and ATM head coach.
The first leg will be played at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium, Jengka this Sunday, while the return fixture will take place at the Darul Aman Stadium next Saturday.