On a fa­mil­iar ground, Kedah know what’s needed to win

New Straits Times - - Sport - NIDZAM ADZHA YU­SOFF

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.

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