It was as if fate conspired against Terengganu in the final played at Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday. Just when the fans and team were preparing to celebrate what could be only their second ever Malaysia Cup triumph, they received a late sucker punch that changed the complexion of the game.
Brendan Gan's goal came in added time in the second half while poor Igor Zonjic's mistake in the added time of extra time were the two moments that put paid to Terengganu and Irfan Bakti's hope of clinching a memorable win the oldest cup competition in the region.
The loss of Tchetche Kipre to an injury and Lee Tuck for his second bookable offense, saw Terengganu crippled by the loss of two of their best players and despite the magnificent Faiz Nasir putting in an outstanding performance, looked a side bereft of confidence in the penalty shoot-out.
"I couldn't believe the result after leading twice. At 2-1, they equalised in the last minute. Then in extra time, it happened again in the last minute. And I know the loss of Tchetche and Lee Tuck affected my team's capability. When it comes to penalty, it's a lottery and the element of luck just wasn't with us today."
"We really depend on Tchetche to score goals. If you look at Parthiban and Malik, if they are composed, they should score. In fact, the first half we should have killed the game. But the ability to score goal isn't there," said Irfan in the post-match press conference.
Kipre had put the team 2-0 ahead after the first half as he capitalised on defensive errors from the Perak defenders but in truth, should have wrapped up the game there and then had J. Parthiban or Malik Ariff been more profilic in front of goal.
Irfan had made the brave decision to stick with Faiz at the start of the match despite having the experience of Ashaari Samsudin available to him and 67-year-old coach would be vindicated in his selection as the diminutive midfielder ran the show in the middle.
Brendan Gan may have picked up the official man-of-the-match award but everyone could see the mammoth performance that Faiz dished out in the final. Kicked from pillar to post, he still managed to run rings around Perak and was unfortunate that his excellent extra time goal did not turn out to be the winner.
"Faiz should be the man of the match tonight, not Brendan Gan. Maybe because Brendan scored the goal that turned the game around. But it should have been Faiz, I don't know who made the selection," added Irfan.
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