In many ways, there was a big sense of irony when PKNP FC faced Petaling Jaya City FC in the final Group B match that was had to be postponed twice. PJ City were the team that PKNP faced in the final Super League match this season, one which a defeat saw them condemned to the Premier League next season by virtue of finishing second last in the league.
So for PKNP to put out a commanding performance that they did in the 3-0 win over PJ City on Sunday, showed the resilience and desire from Abu Bakar Fadzim's boys in proving that they were unlucky in not being able to maintain their top flight status on merit.
Now a far bigger test awaits them in the quartefinal first leg at Manjung Municipal Council Stadium where Kedah will be the visitors today. Aidil Shahrin's team are the clear favourites in the tie but history does show that PKNP has been able to get results against Kedah, what with them winning twice, losing twice and drawing one in the matches played between them.
"This last week we've been tested physically and mentally but the results has allowed us to be very positive. Now the challenge is for my players and also myself against an elite team like Kedah who has won the FA Cup as well as finish third in the Super League.
"This is the kind of match that we dream to play in and we want to show the best image of PKNP in the first leg. At home we have done well in the Malaysia Cup and we want to continue that. Most of my players do not have the experience of playing at this stage so it will be a good learning curve for them," said Abu Bakar to Goal.
Abu Bakar's team will be boosted by the return of Giancarlo Rodriguez who had to sit out of the PJ City match due to the terms of their loan deal. With four goals already in the Malaysia Cup, Giancarlo is the top scorer for PKNP with strike partner Yashir Pinto a close second with three goals of his own.
PKNP will be seeking to make full use of their home advantage, having stayed unbeaten in the last nine matches played there in all competitions. Add to the fact that Kedah will be without defensive stalwart in Shakir Hamzah who is suspended for the first leg, the chances of PKNP creating yet another upset is very much on the cards.
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