Terengganu FC gave their home crowd at Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium plenty to smile about after pulling off a 2-1 win in the first leg of the 2019 FA Cup quarterfinal clash against Pahang. The home side ran away with a 2-0 lead in the first half courtesy of efforts from Malik Ariff (9') and Tchetche Kipre (27') but complications in the second half put a slight dampener on proceedings.
Concession of a 58th minute goal to Ze Love gave Pahang the all-important away goal where a 1-0 home win in the return fixture would be enough to send them through to the semi-final for the third consecutive seasons. One which infuriated Irfan Bakti who had seen his charges played with plenty of control up until that point.
The experienced trainer however prefers to see that positive from a larger scale and highlighted the impact that Adib Aizuddin had in nullifying the threat of Mohamadou Sumareh in the match. Irfan was also adamant that the slight lead means that his team will still need to go on the offensive when the second leg comes around.
"Overall I’m pleased with the team’s performance, particularly in the first half but there’s still another 90 minutes to fight in Kuantan and anything can still happen. We thought Pahang were going to be tired (after playing JDT on Sunday) but that wasn’t the case. On the goal we conceded, we were slow to put the pressure on the delivery on the ball and we gave them a free header.
"Pahang’s strength is obviously on their right hand side with Sumareh and I have to praise Adib for a good job. We knew Sumareh’s combinations with Norshahrul and Ze Love were going to be a threat and we worked at it.
"My philosphy will be to attack. I cannot defend an entire match with only one goal advantage. The best defence is to attack. Of course at the same time, we have to keep our shape," said Irfan after the match.
The drop in energy compared to a Pahang team who had less than 24 hours recovery time would have been a big worry for Irfan. Terengganu played on Saturday (Apr 27) but had to travel back to Kuala Terengganu from Kuala Lumpur while Pahang last played on Sunday (Apr 28) in Kuantan.
Having brought on Khairu Azrin at the start of the match instead of the tired Thierry Chanta Bin, Irfan is also well aware of the fitness levels of his squad. But the matches are coming thick and fast for the team as they next will travel to Manjung to face PKNP FC (May 4) in the Super League before the return leg against Pahang.
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