PETALING JAYA: Two moments of madness at the Sultan Ismail Stadium cost Terengganu a place in the FA Cup final after they were edged out 6-5 on aggregate in extra time by east coast rivals Kelantan.
Having lost the first leg of the semi-finals 1-4, in Kota Baru, the Turtles were barely five seconds away from pulling off one of the most remarkable comebacks in Malaysian football after taking a 4-0 lead through goals from Vincent Bikana (fifth), G. Puvaneswaran (26th), Effa Owona (71st) and Abdul Manaf Mamat (92nd).
As the Kelantan fans turned their backs on the team and started filing out of the stadium towards the end of the game (five minutes of added time), Terengganu self-destructed when Cameroonian forward, Effa Owona gave away a freekick in the middle of the pitch and protested vehemently against referee Suhaizi Shukri’s decision which led to his second yellow card and a sending off.
From the ensuing freekick Kelantan received a lifeline when centreback Obinna Nwaneri scored the all-important goal at the death pulling Kelantan level 5-5 on aggregate – forcing the match into extra-time.
Then came the second blow for the Turtles when in the third-minute of extra-time, they were reduced to nine men after Abdul Manaf was sent-off for kicking at Kelantan defender Mohd Farisham Ismail.
It was the beginning of the end for Terengganu as they looked demoralised and Kelantan took advantage to score the winning goal in 119th minute through Dickson Nwakaeme to break the hearts of the Terengganu fans in the most cruellest of fashions.
Terengganu coach E. Elavarasan was full of praise for his players who showed remarkable courage.
“It’s a heartbreaking exit for us, having taken a 4-0 lead, we lost it with the clock ticking. Even after being reduced to nine man in extra-time we fought on and defended stoutly,” said Elavarasan.
Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak also praised Terengganu for their remarkable fighting spirit.
“I would like to congratulate Terengganu for fighting all the way to the end.
“As for my team, we were really tired having played so many games this season, but I still have to congratulate my team for their mental strength. We showed that, winning the treble last year wasn’t a fluke, with the way we kept believing and refusing to accept defeat.”
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