|MAN OF THE MATCH
Pahang 3-2 PKNS FC
Picking Matias Conti for the man of the match would be the straightforward option. He scored a hat-trick and normally those who do that are feted upon. However, two of those goals came from the Remezey Che Ros spilling the ball and the other because Remezey failed to punch the ball away. Granted, the timing of Conti’s run was superb that ensured he was at the right place at the right time. But the Man of the Match has to go to someone else.
Amirul Hadi Zainal put on another splendid display in midfield, still baffling minds as to what more he needs to do to get back into the national squad. Those who remember him in Selangor colours will remember the tricky winger who got his occasional goal. However, in Pahang he has reinvented himself as a central midfielder and he’s thriving in that role.
Without his usual partner-in-crime in Hafiz Kamal, Amirul had to take on the additional role last night against PKNS. He was tasked with being the deepest of the midfielders and to ensure that PKNS’ superb passing and movement that obliterated teams in Group B, will not cause the Elephants too much trouble.
Amirul worked diligently to deny the likes of Reeshafiq Alwi, Fauzan Dzulkifli and Nazmi Faiz the space to operate and intercepted quite a few of the passes. More importantly though, Amirul didn’t just win the ball back and kick it out to the stands. The composure that the Malacca-born midfielder showed to look for a teammate immediately after winning possession is a virtue worth admiring.
When push comes to shove, and with Pahang needing more to turn the tie around after squandering the lead, it was Amirul who stepped up to provide the home side the platform for victory. It was his rasping shot from outside the box that was too hot for Remezey to handle, which allowed Conti to pounce on for his hat-trick and what turned out to be the winning goal of the match.
Another top display from one of the country’s finest, Amirul will be looking to make more impressions and hopefully finds his way back to the national team.