No parting gift from Nafuzi in final game

Due respect: Terengganu fans display a banner depicting Nafuzi Zain’s face in appreciation of work as the coach of the Turtles. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Outgoing Terengganu coach Nafuzi Zain had wanted to give the team and fans the perfect parting gift – a place in the Malaysia Cup final.

And it almost came true as Terengganu downed Selangor 1-0 in the second leg semi-final at the Sultan Mizan Stadium in Gong Badak on Monday.

Unfortunately it was not enough to overcome their 1-3 deficit from the first leg and they eventally lost 2-3 on aggregate.

Nafuzi’s men gave it their all to drag the game to extra time, but they could not find a way to breach the stout Red Giants’ defence.

After the final whistle, he mustered the courage to walk up to the fans in the stands who showed their appreciation with a Tifo (large banner done by Ultras) bearing his face.

He was visibly emotional as the game was his last as coach.

“I’m a bit sad because I have supported Terengganu for a long time, and the wish was to get them to the final. The fans are the reason why I am here. Even in my tough times, they were behind me,” he said.

“I’ve been here seven years, so I will surely miss the atmosphere.

“It is not easy, but I need a new challenge to be better. I’m just sad that I can’t go to the final. They always supported me. They will always be in my heart forever.”

As for the game, Nafuzi said his boys gave it their all to get the game going till the end, but Selangor was just too good with their defence.

“I’ve to congratulate Selangor for getting to the final. We tried, we played well, tried to score more goals, but it wasn’t meant to be. Selangor were defensively solid and disciplined. That made it hard for us to score.

“The time passed, pressure increased. I guess our luck is until the semi-final.”

Nafuzi should not be ashamed of their outing this season, as the Turtles finished second in the Super League and qualified for the FA Cup final. Thanks to their second-place finish in the league, they’ve also qualified for the AFC Cup next season.

But Nafuzi did say that going to the Malaysia Cup final would have been a success for him.

“For me personally, being with the players and reaching final would have been a high for the season.”

“We tried our best. We have to see the qualities of the opponents, we gave our best. I wanted to gift the fans a final, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

He did not want to divulge his future plans but it is learnt that he will be coaching Kedah next season.

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