Dollah Salleh after leading Pahang to glory in the Malaysia Cup last year. As Police's coach, he will now use his knowledge on the strengths and weaknesses of Pahang's players to his advantage.
GEORGE TOWN: Police can be forgiven for feeling like the visitors when they host Pahang in the FA Cup quarter-final first leg at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi on Tuesday night.
The Premier League leaders, who played all their home matches this year at the MBPJ Stadium in Petaling Jaya, will make their first appearance of the year in Paroi. In previous seasons, Police have also played their home matches in Paroi and the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca.
“For Police, the home ground advantage is only on paper. We don’t have a strong fan base like the state teams,” said Police coach Dollah Salleh on Monday.
“We are just ‘squatting’ in Paroi for the quarter-finals and the stadium is going to be filled with Pahang supporters tomorrow night. Without home advantage, both legs will be equally important to us.”
Dollah will be the cops’ biggest asset as he knows most of the players in the Pahang squad, whom he coached for five seasons from 2009 and led to Malaysia Cup triumph last year.
But the former international prefers to downplay his team’s chances against the Elephants.
“Of course,there are many players in the present Pahang squad who played for me. I can plot my strategy based on the Pahang players’ strengths and weaknesses but when the ball starts rolling, it is up to the Police players to implement these plans successfully.
“Pahang are the favourites but this will not stop us from looking for an upset. I want my players not to worry about Pahang’s might, but to just enjoy football over the two legs.”
Dollah’s task to topple his former team is made tougher by injuries to key defensive players Arman Fareez (leftback), V. Thirumurugan (rightback) and Muslim Ahmad (centreback) and the team’s free-kick specialist Munir Amran.
Dollah, who underwent heart surgery to insert a stent two weeks ago, has defied his doctor’s orders to stay away from football for at least a month.
“For me, football is a passion and being involved keeps me going. I was back on the bench in Penang (for the FA Cup second-round match against PBAPP FC on Feb 4) a week after my surgery and did not find it stressful at all.
“I am looking forward to being on the bench again against Pahang. The quarter-finals will be special because I did not expect to face Pahang so soon after leaving them.”
Police are the only other team besides Kedah in the top two divisions with a 100% record. The cops are leading the Premier League standings on nine points after three straight victories.