HOP­ING FOR

Tereng­ganu bank­ing on fan power to over­come Kedah

New Straits Times - - Sport -

RE­PORTS BY DEVINDER SINGH devinder@nst.com.my

TERENG­GANU coach Ir­fan Bakti Abu Salim has drilled into his team the need to main­tain fo­cus “for an en­tire game” as they seek to over­turn a 1-0 FA Cup semi­fi­nal deficit against Kedah in the sec­ond leg in Kuala Tereng­ganu to­day.

A lapse in con­cen­tra­tion saw Tereng­ganu con­cede two late goals in the 2-1 de­feat to Sabah in the Premier League last weekend which saw the pro­mo­tion chasers slip to third in the stand­ings.

Tereng­ganu, who have not kept a clean sheet in their last five matches — which co­in­ci­den­tally were all played away — will rel­ish a re­turn to the cramped Sul­tan Is­mail Nasirud­din Shah Sta­dium where they can count on vo­cal crowd sup­port to spur them to their first FA Cup fi­nal since 2011.

But to do so, Tereng­ganu have to pre­vent Kedah from adding to their ag­gre­gate ad­van­tage by cut­ting out the kind of de­fen­sive lapses which has seen them lose to Sabah and Univer­siti Te­knologi Mara (4-0).

“That is a prob­lem which has been hap­pen­ing too many times lately,” Ir­fan, re­fer­ring to the Sabah set­back, said yes­ter­day.

“The lack of con­cen­tra­tion should not be hap­pen­ing. We have to be fo­cused at all times and can­not af­ford to be care­less against Kedah.”

Ir­fan will be forced to re­jig his de­fence in any case with left-back Adib Aizud­din Latif sus­pended while striker Fed­erico Fal­cone is doubt­ful af­ter go­ing off late in the Sabah match with an in­jury.

But Lut­fulla Tu­raev and Latif Suhaimi, who missed the first leg through sus­pen­sion, will strengthen Tereng­ganu sig­nif­i­cantly while Is­mail Faruqi Ashari is back from in­jury.

While recog­nis­ing the need to score to have any chance of ad­vanc­ing, Ir­fan said two-time FA Cup win­ners Tereng­ganu also need to be care­ful not to con­cede given the fire­power that Kedah pos­sess.

Kedah put four goals past PKNS in a Su­per League match on Tues­day but Ir­fan can also draw en­cour­age­ment from the fact that Nidzam Adzha Yu­soff ’s side also con­ceded four times.

How­ever, Kedah had a few play­ers miss­ing in mid­week with Liri­don Kras­niqi and Rizal Ghaz­ali sus­pended and Zachary An­der­son sus­pended while Bad­drol Bakhtiar and Syazwan Zainon started from the bench.

“We are play­ing at home af­ter a long time (since April 7) and we will use the sup­port of the crowd to our ad­van­tage.”

Nidzam is sweat­ing on the avail­abil­ity of cen­tre-back An­der­son and goal­keeper Ifwat Ak­mal Chek Kas­sim, who had to be sub­sti­tuted against PKNS, for to­day’s match where they are bid­ding to qual­ify for their first FA Cup fi­nal since 2010.

With Syawal Nordin filling in at the back, Kedah’s por­ous de­fence was pun­ished by PKNS with sub­sti­tute goal­keeper Farhan Abu Bakar al­low­ing the ball to squirm un­der his body and into goal for PKNS’ third goal.

“There were a lot of mis­takes we made and I don’t know how we con­ceded three goals in the sec­ond half,” said Nidzam, who will be with­out Halim Saari for the rest of the sea­son af­ter the mid­fielder un­der­went an op­er­a­tion yes­ter­day on a rup­tured an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment.

PIC BY GHAZ­ALI KORI

Tereng­ganu coach Ir­fan Bakti Abu Salim (cen­tre) and his men are hop­ing their fans will turn up in full force to rally them back from a 1-0 FA Cup semi-fi­nal deficit when they meet Kedah in Kuala Tereng­ganu to­day.

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