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Thursday October 3, 2013 MYT 9:07:00 PM
Thursday October 3, 2013 MYT 9:21:58 PM
by eric samuel
Pahang coach Dollah Salleh (right) said it will be foolish to underestimate the home team.
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia Cup action is centred around the Klang Valley but it is the two visiting teams – Lions XII and Pahang – who are in the driver’s seat when the second-leg of the quarter-finals get under way.
Both the teams hold a slim one-goal advantage on their opponents. In the first-leg, Super League champions Lions XII beat last year’s finalists Armed Forces 1-0 while Pahang edged PKNS FC 3-2.
Lions XII head over to the Selayang Stadium while Pahang travel to the Shah Alam Stadium on Friday.
Pahang coach Dollah Salleh said none of the teams can lay claim to a spot in the semi-finals, yet.
“It will be foolish to write off the home teams. Every team in the quarter-finals are the cream of the crop in the competition. There are no outright winners yet ... although Pahang and Lions XII hold the upperhand with their one-goal advantage going into the return leg,” said Dollah yesterday.
PKNS are no pushovers and have worked hard to qualify for their first ever quarter-final appearance after six previous attempts.
The team, under former national coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim, have quality hands, especially with strong attacking players like Mohd Fadli Shaari, Roman Chmelo and top goal poacher Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh, who has 22 goals in all competitions.
Lions XII will also have to be wary of the soldiers, who broke their hearts at the same venue by showing them the exit in the semi-finals last year. The Singaporean side had won the first-leg 1-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium but Forces stormed back to win the return-leg 1-0 and force the tie into extra-time before advancing 5-4 on penalty kicks.
Forces coach B. Sathianathan knows he can count on his men to stage a similar fightback and claim a semi-final berth.
“I have a full-strength squad and, with home support, I’m sure we have what it takes to qualify for the semi-finals. But we cannot take things for granted and the defence has to be on its toes because if we concede another goal, it will make our task a lot more difficult,” warned the former national coach.
All eyes will be on Golden Boot winner Marlon Alex James to get the goals while the fleet-footed Christie Jayaseelan, Mohd Fitri Omar and Venice Elphi should be a handful for the visitors.
The two other quarter-final matches – Kelantan vs Johor Darul Takzim and Sarawak vs Sime Darby FC – will be played on Saturday.
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