Since snapping a two-match losing run in late March, Terengganu FC have been in very good form of late, winning five of their last six matches. The loss away to Kedah was the only blip in their recent run and it could have easily been a second defeat if not for Irfan Bakti's intervention.
Against the plucky PJ City FC at Petaling Jaya Munincipal Council Stadium, Terengganu had gone into half time trailing to a Rajesh Perumal goal in the 36th minute after some good hold up play by the experienced Safee Sali. Struggling to cope with the directness of PJ City's play, Irfan knew things could not continue in the second half.
His plan worked as Terengganu came out a very different side in the second half. They forced Tinagaran Baskeran into pushing the ball into his own net in the 67th minute before Tchetche Kipre nodded home the winner just 12 minutes later. Irfan was obviously left pleased with Kipre's return to form.
"In the first half, we were outnumbered by PJ City players. Even though it was 4v4 or 5v5 in the middle, there were some of my players that did not do their jobs. So the opponent had the numerical advantage. So I had to take Thierry out in the second and push Lee Tuck further back to get our midfield working.
"Kipre's playing back to his usual self. His acceleration and overall performance has been very good, so there's no doubt about him staying on with us. There were frustration earlier but I have been patient with him and we are reaping the rewards for it," said Irfan after the match.
The win did not improve Terengganu's fortunes in the league standings as they remained on 7th spot but more importantly, took them level on points with PKNS FC and Melaka who are occupying the two spots ahead of them in the standings. A win in the next league match could potentially take them up as high as third in the table.
A visit to PKNP FC will be Terengganu's first test in the second half of the Super League season but that match on May 4 will have to be on the back burner for now as Irfan ensures his group of players keep their focus for the vital home leg of the FA Cup quarterfinal against the mighty Pahang on May 1.
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