The triumphant Pahang players and team officials with the FA Cup trophy they won after beating Felda United 2-1 in the final at Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday. - KAMARUL ARIFFIN/ The Star
SHAH ALAM: Pahang staged a magnificent second-half fightback to beat Felda United 2-1 for their second FA Cup title at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Felda surprisingly raced ahead last night through Edward Wilson Junior in the 22nd minute before Pahang substitute Mohd Faizol Hussain equalised in the 79th minute. Dickson Nwakaeme struck the winner in the 89th minute.
Favourites Pahang struggled to gain a foothold and were outplayed by the hardworking Felda players, who chased every loose ball.
The Elephants’ central midfield pairing of Mohd Hafiz Kamal and Azidan Sarudin were the biggest letdown as the duo looked lost and could not create the chances for strikers Matias Conti and Dickson Nwakaeme.
Felda goalkeeper Mohd Farizal Harun was also in his element as he kept a clean slate in the first half. Felda’s attacking trio of Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Wilson and Zah Rahan Krangar were a threat throughout the first half.
And it was Wilson and Indra who combined to create Felda’s goal. The duo played a one-two at the edge of the box before the former put the ball beyond the reach of Pahang goalkeeper Khairul Azhan.
The goal woke Pahang from their slumber but, despite their hard work, the equaliser was hard to come by. Their best chance came from Azidan’s diving header which hit the cross bar in the 37th minute.
Zah Rahan could have put the game beyond Pahang four minutes after the restart but his effort from outside the box hit the upright.
Two inspired substitutions in the second half by Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan – bringing on Zesh Rehman and Faizol – paved the way for the fightback.
Midfielder Faizol blasted in a screamer from outside the box after receiving a pass from Nwakaeme to get Pahang back into the game while Rehman set up Nwakaeme for the winner in the dying minutes.
Pahang were also FA Cup champions in 2006 when they edged Perlis 4-2 in a penalty shootout. Last night’s victory also earned them a slot in the AFC Cup competition next season.