KANGAR: It will be a Brazilian versus a Brazilian in the Malaysia Cup final between Perlis and Kedah on Saturday.
Perlis' tough tackling defender Joao Bandoch will be given the task to put the shackles on Kedah's top striker Marcos Magno.
This match-up is more intriguing because the two Brazilians are good friends and even take their families to visit each other during their free time.
But the friendship will be discarded on the field as Bandoch has vowed not to let the Kedah dangerman trouble the Perlis goal in the final.
“Marcos is a very fast and dangerous player. He can punish you in a blink of the eye. It is not an easy task to keep him in check for the full 90 minutes,” said Bandoch yesterday.
“But I have managed to contain him in all the three matches we have played against Kedah this year. I am looking forward to size up against him again on Saturday.”
Bandoch, the first-ever foreign defender to be hired by Perlis, has instilled calm and order to the Northern Lions' backline since his arrival at the beginning of the year.
His tough demeanour and ability to cut out the opponents' threats through good positioning and tough tackles have made him one of the main players in Perlis' run to the final.
But off the field, the 29-year-old centreback assumes a different personality. He is a soft-spoken family man, who shies away from publicity. He prefers to let the other two foreigners in the team, Africans Phillimon Chepita and Lamin Conteh Jr, to hog the limelight.
“On the field, I have to be tough because it is my job to cut out danger. But off it, I try my best to be a good husband to Mary Amalia and a good father to my three-year-old son Joao Vitor,” said Bandoch.
He started playing for his hometown club, the Joinville FC's junior team at nine. He went on to feature for the Joinville senior team before moving on to Botafogo, Fluminense and Ituano. His first venture out of Brazil was this year – to join Perlis.
Although he plays in a central defensive role and rarely entered the opponents' penalty box during the Super League, Bandoch has been making more forays upfront to help out the attack in the Malaysia Cup competition.
He scored the crucial second goal in the 2-0 semi-final first-leg victory over Pahang.
As most of his teammates had featured in last year's FA Cup final defeat by Negri Sembilan, Bandoch is expected to be the only Cup final debutant on Malaysian soil in the Perlis first 11. But the Santa Catarina native will not feel the jitters of playing in a first final.
“I might be the only one in the Perlis team not to have played in a Cup final in Malaysia. But I will not be short in Cup final experience, having featured in about six or seven domestic Cup finals in Brazil,” he said.
“Kedah will be tough to beat but it is very, very important for Perlis to bring home a first major title after 83 years and I want to do everything I can to ensure we achieve the feat.”