Pahang's Muhd Faizol Hussain (right) gets a hug from his team-mates after the final whistle of the FA Cup final at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday. He scored the equaliser that paved the way for the 2-1 victory over Felda United. - AZHAR ARIF/ The Star
SHAH ALAM: Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan has hailed the impact made by his substitutes in helping the Elephants to their second major trophy in seven months.
Pahang came back from 1-0 down to beat Felda United 2-1 in the FA Cup final at the Shah Alam Stadium last night.
Trailing to an Edward Wilson Junior goal in the 22nd minute, Faizol Hussain, who had come on for Azidan Sarudin, turned things around when he netted the equaliser with a real screamer in the 79th minute. It was then left to Nigerian striker Dickson Nwakaeme to seal the victory in the dying moments.
Apart from Faizol, Zainal also sent in Zeshan Rehman and Fauzi Roslan – and his substitutions worked wonders.
“Tonight’s victory showed that we do have quality players. When things didn’t work, the subs were sent in and they delivered,” said Zainal, who also guided the team to Malaysia Cup triumph last year.
He, however, refused to accept that Pahang were second best throughout the game.
“It was only in the first 30 minutes that we didn’t play to our potential. I was furious with my team’s incompetent performance in that period and I made it clear to them during the half-time talk,” he said.
“I asked them questions like ‘where’s your passion?’ “Do you want to win?’
“They went back on the field and played like how Pahang should play ... I’m really proud of them.”
Felda coach Irfan Bakti said that “life goes on” as they now switch their attention to hunting for Super League promotion.
“Everything was going according to plan until the last 10 minutes. We were all over them, controlled possession and created chances,” he said.
“The two goals we conceded could have been avoided ... it’s frustrating, but that’s football.
“We need to move on. There are five more really important games in our Premier League campaign.
“With Police almost assured of promotion, there will be one slot left. It’s going be a tussle between us, Penang and Kedah. We’ll fight on.”