Sarawak player Joseph Kalang Tie is sandwiched between two Felda United players during their FA Cup quarter-final first leg match at Selayang Stadium last week. The match ended 0-0. - BERNAMA
GEORGE TOWN: Felda United will not be cowed by the crowd at the State Stadium in Kuching when they take on Sarawak in the FA Cup quarter-finals second leg on Tuesday night.
With the tie balanced at 0-0 following the first leg at the Selayang Stadium last week, Sarawak are the favourites to go through at home.
The Sarawak fans have developed a reputation for creating an electric atmosphere at their home venue, where the Crocs enjoy a good record.
Since January 2013, Sarawak have lost only twice at the State Stadium - to Kelantan on both occasions. They fell to the Red Warriors 0-2 in last year’s FA Cup quarter-finals second leg in April 2013 and 0-1 this season in a Super League match on Jan 25.
Last Saturday, Perak were the latest team to be put to the sword in Kuching after Sarawak won a league tie 1-0 to move up to third in the standings.
“I know that Sarawak are tough to beat when they play in front of their passionate supporters. But as far as I am concerned, the crowd will not be a factor for Felda in the second leg,” said coach Irfan Bakti on arrival in Kuching on Monday.
“It will be 11 versus 11 on the field. My players are experienced enough not to let outside factors like the crowd influence their performance.”
Irfan can be forgiven for feeling bullish as he feels that his Premier League team played better in the first leg and should have gained an outright win.
“Sarawak are doing great in the Super League and will be the favourites. But based on our first-leg performance in Selayang, we got a great chance to qualify for the semi-finals,” said Irfan.
“We created more scoring chances than Sarawak, who only came close through one free-kick attempt in the entire 90 minutes. I am an optimist and believe that if Felda can repeat the same kind of performance and be more clinical in front of goal, we can get through in Kuching.”
Felda will go into the match full of confidence after blasting KL SPA 4-0 in their Premier League clash last Friday.
The only setback for Irfan is that he will be without suspended veteran midfielder Shahrulnizam Mustapha.
Irfan’s Sarawak counterpart Robert Alberts, however, has a major injury crisis following the bruising win over Perak.
Five first team players – defenders Gabor Gyepes and Ramesh Lai, midfielder Ashri Chuchu and forwards Milorad Janjus and Zamri Morshidi – are injured and doubtful against Felda.