It was just 72 hours before that PKNS FC sprung a major suprise at Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium to beat Johor Darul Ta'zim by the odd goal in the FA Cup to reach the quarterfinals but it was not a momentum able to be sustained by The Red Ants during Saturday's Super League encounter at the same ground against the same opponent.
A 3-1 defeat meant that PKNS remains in fifth place in the Super League standings, three behind Kedah who are in fourth. A game that effectively saw all the good will from Wednesday's win flood away after only 15 minutes played as Afiq Fazail and Gonzalo Cabrera put JDT into a healthy lead.
JDT made numerous changes to the starting XI and brought back their first teamers for this league encounter and K. Rajagopal admitted that the higher calibre of players is what made the difference in the second match compared to the first.
"There wasn’t many things wrong in this game. If we have to pinpoint something, it’s that this JDT is a different team to the one we faced in the FA Cup. We conceded too early and that cost us our momentum. We tried to come back into the game and you can see that in the second half. But tiredness crept up with us and we conceded the third goal.
"The number of matches doesn’t just affect my team but also all the others. This is a matter of whether the squad has enough depth to sustain challenges on more than one front," said Rajagopal after the match.
Gabriel Guerra scored on his return to Larkin, a wonderful long range effort into the top corner that left Farizal Marlias grasping at thin air. But in truth, it was PKNS who were under siege for most of the match and a combination of Zarif Irfan's superb goalkeeping as well as the frame of the goal that prevented the match from turning into a rout.
PKNS will next welcome Kuala Lumpur at Shah Alam Stadium on April 27 before the vital FA Cup encounter against Kedah on April 30 at the same venue.
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