Mohd Ghaddar Mahmoud (left) scored the equaliser that helped take Kelantan into the FA Cup semi-finals, beating PKNS by a 6-5 aggregate. – Bernama Photo
PETALING JAYA: Kelantan might not be playing their best game but the Red Warriors’ coach Steve Darby is willing to take an ugly win.
On Tuesday, the defending champions laboured to hold PKNS to a 3-3 draw in the FA Cup second leg quarter-final to book a berth in the semi-finals with a 6-5 aggregate win at the Selayang Stadium.
The east coast giants were stunned by Patrick Wleh’s opener in the second minute, forcing Kelantan to reply through Ahmad Fakri Saarani (19th) and Ahmad Shakir Ali (26th) before substitute striker Karlo Primorac converted a spot kick in the 43rd minute to make it 2-2.
PKNS went up again after the breather with Indonesian defender Hamkah Hamzah’s header in 71st minute before Mohd Ghaddar Mahmoud saved Kelantan the blushes with an equaliser a minute later.
Darby admitted the match could have gone either way and rubbished claims that the team are struggling under his guidance.
The 56-year-old retorted that “the team have been abused for perceived poor form but we have won six out of eight matches ... that should say something about us.”
“It was a great match for both teams ... the neutrals would have loved the action-packed game. We scored late goals and I know my team are capable of scoring goals,” said the Englishman after the match.
“We are in the semi-finals of the competition now. How could I not be happy with the team’s performance?
“If people are expecting beautiful stuff, they should watch ballet instead ... We will take the win, no matter if the football is beautiful or not.”
Meanwhile, PKNS coach Wan Jamak Wan Hassan praised the tigerish performance of his players despite their heartbreaking exit from the competition.
“People will respect PKNS more after our display against Kelantan and I have to give credit to the players for their performance,” said the former national coach.
“We played well but let in easy goals and it cost us the match. We will use the international break to regroup and come back stronger.”