Nidzam’s men to wear favourite tag in FA Cup

New Straits Times - - Sport - DEVIN­DER SINGH devin­

KEDAH were im­me­di­ately in­stalled as favourites for the FA Cup fi­nal against Pa­hang next Satur­day after steam­rolling Tereng­ganu 4-0 on ag­gre­gate in the semi­fi­nals.

Tereng­ganu coach Ir­fan Bakti Abu Salim ad­mit­ted there was no way his Premier League side could have over­come their Su­per League op­po­nents in the sec­ond leg in Kuala Tereng­ganu on Satur­day, which Kedah won 3-0.

With a host of reg­u­lars re­turn­ing after be­ing rested or sus­pended for their pre­vi­ous out­ing against PKNS, Kedah had the game un­der con­trol and were re­warded with goals by Liri­don Kras­niqi, Ken Ilso and San­dro Men­donca.

“They de­serve to win,” Ir­fan told TV9af­ter the match at the Sul­tan Is­mail Nasirud­din Shah Sta­dium. “We lost the game in mid­field where we al­lowed San­dro, Kras­niqi and Bad­drol Bakhtiar too much free­dom.

“Most of my play­ers be­came ball-watch­ers. We also lack a proven goal scorer even if Fed­erico Fal­cone had played tonight. The sec­ond goal re­ally killed us due to in­di­vid­ual mis­takes which should not have hap­pened.

“For a lot of my play­ers, this is the first time they played at this level. But we will try again. Look­ing at how Kedah played, I think they will win the fi­nal.”

Kedah face Pa­hang in the fi­nal, their first since 2010, at the Shah Alam Sta­dium and will be bid­ding to win the FA Cup for a fourth time.

Coach Nidzam Adzha Yu­sof said the plan to rest play­ers against PKNS in the Su­per League last Tues­day, which they drew 4-4, proved to be the cor­rect de­ci­sion.

“We al­ways planned to rest a few play­ers against PKNS and look­ing back, it worked well,” said Nidzam, who re­mains un­beaten in three matches since re­plac­ing Tan Cheng Hoe as coach.

“All the play­ers de­liv­ered to­day. We have a good record against Pa­hang so we will plan for the fi­nal later. I just want to thank the play­ers and coach­ing staff for all their hard work in get­ting us to the fi­nal.”

Kedah cap­tain Khairul Helmi Jo­hari said: “We tried to play at our best be­cause we know we have lost many times in the semi­fi­nals. So this year was a good chance to get to the fi­nal. Pa­hang are a very good team so we have to study their game. We will need to fo­cus bet­ter.

“A week is enough to get pre­pared and al­low those with in­juries to re­cover.”

Kedah cap­tain Khairul Helmi Jo­hari

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