PETALING JAYA: Bottoms up to Super League relegation battlers Felda United and PKNS! They dished out a classic featuring nine goals that saw the Fighters win 5-4 in Jengka, Pahang.
While the fans were kept on the edge of their seats, the coaches – Felda’s Nidzam Jamil and PKNS’ Datuk K. Rajagopal – could only describe the suspense as “crazy”.
A relieved Nidzam was glad that his players could weather the storm in the last eight minutes as PKNS pressed for an equaliser.
“Even in that situation, we had two chances that hit the bar – nine goals, crazy, too crazy. As a coach, it was frightening,” he said.
“We didn’t expect to lead 5-1. This was also the first time in the league that we led 2-1 in the first half. So imagine when we were 5-1 up during the second half, the players were in disbelief.
“That’s when the concentration levels went down and PKNS took advantage of it.
“Their big boys ‘tekan’ (pressed) our young boys. We tackled and pushed them but they took advantage of set-pieces.
“The boys panicked but when the score was 5-4, that’s when they told themselves, we need the win and let’s defend.
“For me, this is an experience. The young boys will learn a great deal from this match. I love this team for their sheer determination and strength.”
Singaporean striker Khairul Amri showed his pedigree by scoring an acrobatic goal past PKNS goalkeeper Zarif Irfan Hashimudin.
Nidzam said Khairul’s arrival had impacted the team as the players are inspired by his presence.
“He’s a prominent character in the dressing room. We need players like him to encourage everyone. Khairul is a leader and he’s one of the two players in our team to win the FA Cup.
“Everybody wants to emulate him because he always gives his all in training. We believe we can score goals because of Khairul. He’s a good mentor for the young players.”
PKNS coach Rajagopal said his boys lost their focus when Felda scored the third goal, and it all went haywire after that.
“We’ve never been in this situation. Some of the players didn’t know what to do. We conceded so many goals and when the fifth went in, I had to make changes.
“The changes brought stability, and we scored goals but it was not enough. As a coach, I’m responsible for this defeat and the players as professionals should also take responsibility.
“It was disappointing not to get the point or win. Felda played well at times but I felt our boys should have buried their chances.”
Felda are still rooted at the bottom of the 12-team league with 12 points and just two points away from the relegation zone while PKNS are eighth with 19 points.