Pahang fans at the FA Cup semi-final second leg on May 30, 2014. Pahang edged JDT 1-0, to qualify for the final on a 2-1 aggregate.
KUANTAN: It was sweet revenge for Pahang. And what made it sweeter is that it’s now Pahang’s turn to go to the FA Cup final.
On Friday night, a glorious strike by Mohd Faizol Hussain in the 81st minute was enough to give Pahang a 1-0 win over Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) – and a 2-1 aggregate triumph.
The Elephants will now face either Felda United or Kelantan in the final at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on June 7. Felda and Kelantan square off on Saturday in their second-leg tie at the Shah Alam Stadium level at 3-3.
Friday’s victory was certainly sweet for the Pahang fans at the Darul Makmur Stadium because it was JDT who pipped their team to the final at the same stage last year.
The win also means that Pahang continued to be the bogey team for JDT. The Elephants have yet to lose to JDT in four meetings this season.
There was so much hype before the game – the bitter rivalry, the mad rush for tickets, the capacity crowd – but the performance on the field failed to live up to the excitement off it.
The 30,000-odd fans had nothing much to shout about in the first half, with only one scoring chance for each team.
Luciano Figueroa tested Pahang goalkeeper Mohd Khairul Azhan Khalid with a glancing header off a Safiq Rahim corner kick in the 14th minute.
The closest the homesters came to scoring was a disallowed goal by Pakistan international Zesh Rahman, off a Mohd Faizol Hussain freekick in stoppage time of the first-half.
The second half, however, saw both teams coming alive.
JDT head coach Bojan Hodak brought in Safee Sali for the ineffective Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal at the start of the second half and it nearly paid off barely two minutes into play.
Safee’s stinging shot in front of goal, however, come off Pahang custodian Mohd Khairul after a goalmouth melee in the 47th minute.
JDT were desperate for a goal. If the game had ended goalless, Pahang would have gone through on the away goal rule.
But it was Pahang who stepped up their game, with winger R. Gopinathan giving them a much-needed boost in attack with his darting runs and crosses.
And it was then left to Mohd Faizol to turn hero with a screamer to the top left hand corner, beating JDT goalkeeper Mohd Izham Tarmizi all the way.