On a familiar ground, Kedah know what’s needed to win
My job now is to continue the work of my predecessor and now that we are already here in the final, we might as well make full use of this opportunity and win it."
KEDAH fans, on the now familiar trek to the Shah Alam Stadium for a third consecutive year, fully expect their team to take the FA Cup trophy home to Alor Star today.
Having lost and then beaten Selangor in the last two Malaysia Cup finals, Kedah return to Shah Alam looking to win the FA Cup for the first time since 2008 with plenty of experience to handle the heavy expectations.
This time, though, they have a novice head coach in Nidzam Adzha Yusoff to chart a course to victory over Pahang as he bids to reap the rewards of a team shaped by Tan Cheng Hoe.
"There is no pressure on us because we have been here twice before in recent years and players know how to focus on the final," said Nidzam, formerly Cheng Hoe's assistant, at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday.
"We are comfortable playing here but the mentality of the team has always been to treat each match like a final this season.
"My job now is to continue the work of my predecessor and now that we are already here in the final, we might as well make full use of this opportunity and win it."
Pahang coach Dollah Salleh also made reference to the gulf in experience at senior coaching level between Nidzam, who won the FA Cup twice as a player in 1990 with Perak and 1996 with Kedah, and the former national coach.
But Dollah pointedly said it is the players who make the difference on the pitch, which 49-yearold Nidzam agreed with.
"It is not the coach who is performing on the pitch, it is the 11 players there who determine whether the team is successful or not," said Nidzam, who is unbeaten in three games since replacing Cheng Hoe.
Should Kedah win the FA Cup for a fourth time today, Nidzam's chances of taking on the head coach job on a permanent basis will improve significantly.
"Nidzam has a very heavy duty tomorrow but we have confidence in him," said Kedah team manager Datuk Jeffrey Low. "For sure we will have to plan what to do next year but Nidzam still has a year more to go on his contract so he will remain with us.
"The management and players are both comfortable with him and there is no reason to replace him. Things are going well and he will stay as caretaker coach until the end of the season."
Nidzam is likely to make one change from the side which swept past Terengganu 3-0 in the second leg of last week’s semifinal with centre-back Zachary Anderson returning from injury in place of Syawal Nordin.