Raja praises nerveless Red Ants

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PKNS FC
The hugely experienced PKNS head coach was delighted after his charges kept their composure to reach their second semi-final appearance in 3 years.

It was billed as a tough match, especially after the concession of the late away goal to Perak in the first leg at Shah Alam Stadium. Fans came in droves as Perak returned to their beloved Perak Stadium for the first time this season but PKNS FC were the ones that came away victorious.

After a cagey opening half, the floodgates opened in the second half and K. Rajagopal's side found the elusive away goal that they were seeking. Young centre back Rodney Celvin Akwensivie produced a stunning long range low drive that eluded the dive of Hafizul Hakim.

Things turned even better for them minutes later when they were awarded a penalty kick after Kenny Pallraj crashed into Faris Ramli. K. Gurusamy sent Hafizul the wrong way to not only put PKNS up by two goals but also meant that Perak had to find four goals to stay in the competition.

"The players weren't nervous and played as instructed, even though we played in front of thousands of Perak fans. What was important is that we came here to get the best result and reach the semi-final. After we got the two goals advantage, I told my players to just relax and not to press to high up as it might cause us danger," said Rajagopal after the match.

The game plan to find an early goal didn't work for Perak. Gilmar Filho was once again left too isolated up front with Nor Hakim Hassan and Nazrin Nawi in a non-functioning mode out on the flanks.

To their credit, Perak continued to fight even after going two nil down and managed to pull back level at 2-2, with Nasir Basharudin providing the burst of inspiration but it was all a little to late for them to revive the tie.

"We dominated the match, had plenty of opportunities through free kicks and corner kicks. If only one of those went in, the game would have been different. It's tough to accept this result but I'm still proud of the desire shown by my players especially in the second half," said a disappointed Mehmet Durakovic after the match.

With the defeat, Perak have now gone 14 years without reaching the final of the FA Cup, having won the competition twice in it's 29-years of existence. The best the Bos Gaurus have done in recent seasons was to reach the semi-final stage, that was two years ago, where ironically they also fell at the hands of PKNS.

Meanwhile for Rajagopal, he now has a chance to take the Red Ants to the final again and be the first coach to guide the club from Selangor to it's maiden cup triumph.

 

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