Insa’s aggression worries coach
PAHANG coach Dollah Salleh was left wondering at what might have been had Kiko Insa kept his wits about him during Saturday’s FA Cup final which Kedah won 32 at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Insa, the Spain-born naturalised midfielder, was booked twice in seven minutes to leave Pahang battling for an hour with 10 men despite having been told to rein in his aggressive nature.
To Pahang’s credit, they gave it a good go despite trailing and did not allow Kedah a moment of peace and very nearly forced the match into extra-time only to be foiled by some desperate defending by Kedah.
Dollah said his team’s performance, especially in the second half when Pahang dominated despite playing with a man short, gave him hope of challenging Darul Ta’zim for the Super League title.
“Even with 10 men we never gave up and as a coach I’m very proud of the way we played in the second half,” said Dollah.
“The players did their best but the result was not on our side.
“It didn’t look like we were playing with 10 men. I told the players to keep their discipline and we attack together as well as defend together.
“The second half performance is what our real game is like. We did that at the start of the season but then we lost a bit of our rhythm as the fixtures piled up.
“But I think if we can regain that momentum then we can catch up with the Super League leaders even though we are six points behind.”
As for Insa, Dollah does not regret his decision to start with him in place of Nor Azam Azih as he wanted him to nullify the threat of Kedah midfileder Liridon Krasniqi.
“I don’t regret anything because I am proud of the way we fought back,” said Dollah.
“I told Insa from the start, even in training, that when you commit a foul you have to show contrition.
“I reminded him many times but he’s an aggressive character and it still happens. I hope this will be a lesson to him.”
Dollah was also happy with the performance of new signing Yamil Romero, who showed great individual skill to skip past three players late in the first half before laying the ball off for Matheus Alves to drill in a shot which was deflected wide.
“Romero struggled a bit during part of the match because his match fitness needs to improve,” said Dollah, who signed the Argentine two weeks ago to replace Nigerian forward Chinedu Bright Dike. “But he was superb in the second half and I think he can be one of our best players.”
Dollah now has the tough task of rousing his players for Wednesday’s Super League meeting with Selangor in Selayang where they will attempt to keep pace with Darul Ta’zim in the title race. Devinder Singh
Pahang’s Kiko Insa was booked twice which earned him a red card in the FA Cup final against Kedah on Saturday.