Last year in the FA Cup, PKNP FC were only narrowly beaten by eventual champions Pahang in the last four stage of the competition and this time around, Perak and at least 90 minutes of football stand in their way to repeat the feat.
In the first leg played at Manjung Munincipal Council Stadium last week, PKNP put on a brave show and showed plenty of improvement to hold Perak to a scoreless draw. That, after losing 0-4 to the same opponent, at the same ground just a couple of days earlier.
Having denied Perak a precious away goal, the advantage does sit slightly with PKNP going into the return leg on Saturday where any score draw would be sufficient to take PKNP through to the next round. Head coach Abu Bakar Fadzim knows Perak inside out but has his head scratching over two recruits potentially taking the field for the first time.
"We know Perak's strength in their wingers on both flanks who are among the best in the country. They are supported by their fullbacks at every opportunity. The only thing that is unknown right now are the two new imports. We've not seen them play and we will see what they can do in the first half. I will instruct my players to keep a close eye on them but hopefully they are still lacking fitness after only being here for a short period
"This situation is similar to when we were in the FAM Cup semi-final and drew the home first leg. We have to be really disciplined, compact and try not to make mistakes. We know they will go on the attack and we have to be patient and wait for the right time to go forward," said Abu Bakar.
Speaking at the press conference on Friday, announcing PKNP's capture of Pedro Victor who replaces the outgoing Siyovush Asrorov, Abu Bakar admits there's little he knows about Perak's two new signings in Ronaldo Henrique Silva and Raianderson da Costa Morais.
It might take Mehmed Durakovic some time to gel his new attacking duo to the team or they could start like a house on fire. For Abu Bakar, the challenge remains the same, which is to ensure that his team are able to soak up the expected pressure and pounce on any openings that they can get in Ipoh.
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