Wednesday, 27 August 2014 | MYT 6:01 PM
Pahang goalkeeper Nasril shines in clash against Felda
Pahang’s Dickson Nwakaeme (right) vying for the ball with Felda United’s Yaroslav Krushelnitskiy during their Malaysia Cup match at the Selayang Stadium on Tuesday. — GLENN GUAN / The Star
PETALING JAYA: Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan was full of praise for goalkeeper Mohd Nasril Nourdin after watching his side beat Felda United 2-0 in their Malaysia Cup Group A match at the Selayang Stadium.
Nasril, who replaced injured first choice goalkeeper Khairul Azhan Khalid, pulled several top class saves to deny Felda’s Premier League Golden Boot winner Edward Wilson Junior on Tuesday.
Nasril’s heroics were matched by his Felda counterpart Farizal Harun before winger R. Gopinathan’s 66th-minute strike and Dickson Nwakaeme’s penalty kick in stoppage time handed Pahang all three points.
The Elephants lead Group A with nine points, followed by Felda (seven), Johor Darul Ta’zim II (four) and Lions XII (two).
Zainal, who also guided the Elephants to the FA Cup crown in June, claimed that “we are under more pressure now as the defending champions”.
“The three points have put us in a comfortable position with two more matches to play ... but we can’t take things for granted,” said Zainal.
“We are the favourites to defend the Malaysia Cup and there is more pressure on us, but I’m not setting any targets ... we’ll take it one game at a time.
“Khairul had some swelling on his wrist, so I didn’t want to risk him. Nasril did an excellent job.”
Felda coach Irfan Bakti said that “it was just not our day” but still believes they are on track to reach the quarter-finals.
“It was a close match and Pahang took their chances well ... we didn’t. There’s still two more games left and I’m confident we can go through,” said Irfan.