Dollah calls on Pahang players to remain focused on chase for honours
AJITPAL SINGH email@example.com
CERTAIN parties are putting enormous pressure on Pahang and this is affecting their chances of winning titles this season.
But coach Dollah Salleh, who had similar experiences when he was national coach, is not about to let these issues stop his team from winning the FA Cup and also make lasting impressions in the Super League and Malaysia Cup.
On Sunday, Pahang condemned Premier League side Negri Sembilan to their first defeat of the season with a 1-0 win in the first leg of the FA Cup semi-finals in Kuantan.
Substitute Ashaari Samsudin netted with a thunderous shot from inside the Negri box nine minutes from time for Pahang. The return leg in Paroi is on May 13.
“We are not going to allow distractions and other negatives stop us from achieving our dreams. We will try our best to silence critics by winning the FA Cup,” Dollah told Timesport yesterday.
Pahang were dominant in all aspects against a defensive-minded Negri who depended on counter attacks for goals.
“Negri had 10 players in their half whenever we had the ball .... at times, they had 10 players in their penalty box. I expected this from Negri. It is not easy to score goals when your opponents play ultra defensive. “The 1-0 success is still a win...we did not lose. It is a blessing as the players will be focused and alert for the return leg in Paroi. We played a good game but did not finish off our chances.”
Dollah said his team have not been playing their best football in the last three matches.
“We need to take steps to regain our rhythm. The hectic schedule is the reason but it is not an excuse,” said Dollah, whose team will entertain Kelantan in a Super League match on Saturday.
Negri coach Asri Ninggal said the team were defensive as the motive was to earn a draw.
“Pahang controlled for most periods and they deserved the win. We were defending but I think we also created some good chances. We need to be more organised in the middle third and also clinical in the return leg.
“I think this tie is still on and that our ambition to make the final is still alive. I am proud of my boys as they matched Pahang yesterday,” said Asri.
The visitors’ momentum was slightly affected in Kuantan when their top scorer Bruno Castanheira was substituted after 20 minutes for a knee injury. They were forced to reshuffle and Castanheira’s absence was felt.
Negri are currently experiencing a bad patch, having not won in the last four matches but Asri believes his team will rise again.
“Other teams have learned about our strengths and weaknesses. We need to improvise on all aspects to regain our winning touch,” he added.
We are not going to allow distractions and other negatives stop us from achieving our dreams.
Negri Sembilan’s Annas Rahmat (left) fights for the ball with Pahang’s Matheus Alves (right) and Kiko Insa at the Darulmakmur Stadium on Sunday.