Pahang showed plenty of heart in the manner that they came back into the match in the FA Cup final against Kedah on Saturday night. Despite going down early to 10 men, Dollah Salleh's boys fought valiantly but ultimately had to settle for the runners-up medal.
When asked in the post-match press conference if Insa's red card was the reason for the defeat, Dollah did not mince his world and put down the Insa's failure to keep his composure as the main reason that the Elephants did not finish as champions.
"Not maybe....It was a mistake early in the game. I cannot do anything but we put that to one side. Actually we already briefed him in training. We know his character so we told him that if there's any challenge, don't get involved. Even before start game, we said the same to him. But this is football and it's a lesson for him. We were planning for him to follow Liridon [Krasniqi]," said Dollah.
However, despite playing with a man less, Pahang went on the attack in the second half. Heo Jae-Won and Mahamadou Sumareh scored for Pahang but they just could find the third goal to bring the game to extra time.
Dollah is hoping that the team takes great encouragement from their performance as they are still in the hunt for the Super League title, just six points behind leaders Johor Darul Ta'zim.
"Even though we played with only 10, we never gave up. As a coach, I'm proud of my players in the second half. Just that the result wasn't with us. In the second half, we didn't even feel like we were playing with 10. I just reminded them to be discipline and for them to support both defence and attack. That was is our real game. If we can maintain this, I'm sure we can catch up," added Dollah.
In the final, Dollah opted to field Yamil Romero - their new Argentine signing right from the kick-off. Romero showed good touches and has that nimbleness in the game that at times, saw him dribble past a couple of Kedah markers. Dollah is confident that Romero will only grow into a better player for Pahang.
"He struggled on match fitness actually but second half he did superb. When he gets match fitness, I think he can be one of the best players," enthused Dollah.