THE HATERS

Dol­lah calls on Pa­hang play­ers to re­main fo­cused on chase for hon­ours

New Straits Times - - Sport - DOL­LAH SALLEH

AJITPAL SINGH ajit­pals­ingh@nst.com.my

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.

PIC BY FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANG

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.

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