Wednesday May 18, 2005
Pahang, Sabah and MPPJ face early exits from FA Cup
By ERIC SAMUEL
PETALING JAYA: More surprises are in store in the first round of the FA Cup competition with some of the big boys likely to make early exits after the second-leg matches tonight.
Among them are Super League defending champions Pahang; four-time FA Cup finalists Sabah; and 2003 Malaysia Cup champions Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ).
Pahang, who boast of having the core of national players in their side, face the toughest task to survive. They are down 1-4 going into the match against Premier League Group A leaders Selangor at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan.
But Selangor coach Dollah Salleh said that they did not have the luxury to take chances and would field their strongest side against the Elephants.
“This is football. You cannot take your foot off the pedal and go to sleep,” said Dollah.
“There is still another 90 minutes to go. Pahang are an unpredictable side and I am sure they will not want to disappoint their home fans. They will come at us. We will not take any chances.”
Selangor striker Khalid Jamlus and midfielder K. Sanbagamaran are out with injuries while defender Nazrulerwan Makmor will have to serve a one-match suspension.
Pahang, on the other hand, will be hard pressed to live up to their fans’ expectations in Kuantan because they are caught in a tight squeeze – having to play four matches in three different tournaments over a period of 12 days.
On Sunday, they notched their first win in five matches. Their striker from Cameroon, Bernard Tchoutang, scored all four goals in their 4-1 win over basement side Perak in a Super League match in Kuantan.
But Pahang may want to rest their best men for the league match against MPPJ on May 21 and against New Radiant FC of Maldives in a do-or-die match in the AFC Cup on May 25.
Sabah are the other Super League outfit starring at the exit. But the Rhinos are an improved side since they lost 1-3 to Penang’s NTFA in the first-leg match in Batu Kawan on Feb 23. The introduction of Brazilian striker Julio Cesar Rodrigues has turned things around for the Rhinos.
MPPJ, under new German coach Michael Feichtenbeiner, will also have their hands full against high-riding Premier League Group B leaders Terengganu, who edged them 2-1 in the first-leg match.
Since Feichtenbeiner took over as chief coach from Reduan Abdullah last month, MPPJ have been a rejuvenated side – chalking up three wins, a draw and a defeat.
Defending champions Perak are going through a bad spell, sitting at the bottom of the eight-team Super League.
But they are still favoured to get past Premier Club (FAM Cup) side Subang Jaya Municipal Council. Perak hold a 1-0 lead from the first-leg match.