Felda United, PKNP FC, Malaysia CupFelda United

Coach Burn cherishes 'special' PKNP win over Felda

Plucky PKNP FC are one step away from clinching a place in the 2017 Malaysia Cup semi-final, heady heights for the small club from Ipoh.

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Still in with a chance to achieve promotion from the Premier League to the Super League, and plus their performances in the FA Cup earlier in the season when they reached the quarterfinal stage, Abu Bakar Fadzim's team are certainly riding on a crest of wave.

The former Perak midfielder now head coach of PKNP, Abu Bakar couldn't hide his delight at winning in Tun Abdul Razak Stadium, against a team many see as much more superior to his tiny PKNP side.

"I think the win gives the team a big motivation and it was very special. We studied Felda and they are a complete team and it was difficult to see where their weaknesses are. Their players are quality and experienced, playing in the AFC Cup. I just wanted my players to put up a good fight and never did we think that we would win by such margin."

"We come with a plan and lesson learned from our meeting against Kedah. That time we had only one import and this time we had three. They combined well with the local players and everyone showed very good attitude.

"We went there looking to ensure that we have something to fight for in the second leg, unlike what happened in the FA Cup against Kedah. We haven't played in Ipoh for a long time for one reason or another and we wanted to give something to our home fans. 

"Felda had more chances and pressured us very strongly, especially in the second half. It's only that we converted our chances better. Felda is a solid team but maybe on Friday we had an advantage. The finishing from Shahrel Fikri was magnificent, all one-touch finishes, inside and outside the penalty box. 

"We know this is only the first step, we still need to finish the job," said Abu Bakar in an interview with Goal.

Against Felda United, Abu Bakar had to make do without playmaker Vincent Weijl who is still far from being fully fit after only just recovered from an injury. With another week of training, the Dutch midfielder could be involved in the second leg, which would give PKNP the extra depth to defend their two goals lead.

The experienced 46-year-old knows that despite bringing back a two-goals lead into a home second leg, PNKP cannot rest on their laurels, thinking that they already have one foot in the next stage of the competition.

"We are not there yet. Felda could turn up any time. Maybe they found it hard to get going after such a long break. If they peak in the second leg, that could be trouble for us. We don't have the quality that they have."

"What we have is work rate, character and desire. But they are the better team and that's a fact. They are like a wounded tiger who is raring to bite back. A two goal lead can be wiped out in just a moment.

"We will need to play better than what we did in the first leg if we want to reach the semi-final. We have to be well organised and wait for the right time to kill them. But if they kill us first, then we might be in trouble," added Abu Bakar.

For the time being, Abu Bakar will need to turn his players' attention back to the league as they face Negeri Sembilan on Tuesday in what is essentially a six-pointer in the promotion race.