BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Kedah are through to their third cup final match in three years, after they defeated Terenganu 3-0 in their second leg FA Cup semi-final match, to take the tie 4-0 on aggregate. The home side's eagerness to find an early equaliser was punished by Liridon Krasniqi's fifth minute goal, before Ken Ilso Larsen and Sandro Mendonca added the visitors' second and third goal of the evening.
Only one goal had separated the two sides, after the first leg in Alor Star ended in a 1-0 win to the Red Eagles.
Terengganu head coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim made several changes to the lineup of the first leg. Abdul Latiff Suhaimi and Lutfulla Turaev returned from their suspensions, while Adib Aizuddin was suspended. Striker Federico Falcone was unavailable too, sidelined with a groin injury.
Kedah's caretaker boss Nidzam Adha was missing centre back Zac Anderson who was injured, but had the service of returning winger Rizal Ghazali.
The home side signalled their intent right from the kickoff, dominating possession in the first five minutes. Centre back Lázaro made contact with a corner kick in the fourth minute, but the contact was too slight and the ball simply glanced off of his head.
But their pressure opened them up to Kedah's counter attacks. In the fifth minute, goalkeeper Amierul made two brilliant saves in quick succession to deny Krasniqi, but his defenders' failure to clear the ball out of the penalty area gave the ball back to the Kosovar, who effortlessly netted the chance past the already-beaten custodian.
The tempo slowed down following the goal, with Terengganu's gameplay becoming more subdued.
That allowed the Red Eagles to triple their lead on aggregate. At the half hour mark, a poor back pass by Shukor in his own half found its way to Larsen, and the Dane fired a low shot into the right bottom corner from outside the box. This time, Amierul's heroics, which saved the Turtles from a hiding in the first leg, deserted him.
To no one's surprise, Irfan took Shukor off with five minutes remaining in the first half, and brought on Ismail Faruqi Asha'ri in his place.
At the start of the second half, Irfan made another change, bringing on J. Parthiban for Ferris Danial.
However, Sandro made it one-way traffic just three minutes into the second half. He exchanged passes with Larsen, before dummying past Amierul and slotting the ball into the net from a tight angle.
In the 72nd minute, recent substitute Amirul Syahmi picked up the first booking of the match, after he made a late challenge on Kedah custodian Ifwat Akmal. For awhile Ifwat had been a doubt for the match, having picked up a knock in their mid-week Super League 4-4 draw against PKNS FC.
The match ended in a 4-0 aggregate win to the Red Eagles
It was an underwhelming end to the Turtles' FA Cup campaign, especially after much was expected of the return of Turaev and Latiff.
But for Kedah, the win will surely improve their team morale, which had taken a hit from the transfer saga, and eventual departure, of former head coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
Kedah : Ifwat (GK), Fitri, Helmi (C), Syawal, Rizal, Akram (Farhan 86'), Syazwan Zainon (Syafiq 63'), Krasniqi, Baddrol, Sandro (Syazwan Tajuddin 78'), Larsen.
Terengganu: Amierul Hakimi Awang (GK), Hafizal, Lazaro, Haniff, Firdaus, Ferris (Parthiban 46'), Faiz, Nakajima-Farran (C), Faiz, Shukor (Ismail 40'), Turaev (Amirul Syahmi 64').