Mixed feelings

May 18, 2015

Pahang have surrendered another Cup they won last year – the FA Cup – with their loss to Kelantan in the semifinals, but all is not lost.

At the start of the season Pahang surrendered the Charity Shield to Johor DT when they went down 2-0.

On Saturday, Pahang despite a one goal lead from the first leg against Kelantan, went down 3-1 and failed to see them defend the second of the three Cups they won last year.

Now the Elephants are left to defend the third Cup they won last year – the prestigious Malaysia Cup.

Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan is fully aware that it is not going to be an easy task, but intends to going for broke having surrendered two Cups.

But the consolation is that Pahang is still in the race for the League which they failed to capture last season and also have qualified for the fourth round of the AFC Cup.

“It is a very difficult situation for us. At the start of the season we were playing in five different tournaments and had a chance of winning all five,” said Zainal.

“Now two have left our grasp. Left with three, we have to double our efforts to ensure that we do not end empty handed.

“We in the race for five had its good and bad. Good because it gave us a lot of exposure but the same time it began to stress us with hectic fixtures.

“In the end, the hectic fixtures took the toll on the players. I am not offering excuses. But as much as the players tried, it is only so much they do.

“For instance in the match against Kelantan on Saturday, as much as the players tried, they could not last the ninety minutes.”

Zainal said that matters were worse when Azamuddin Mohd Akil picked up a red card in the first half forcing Pahang to play with ten-man.

“That was a moment of madness. As a professional player Azamuddin should have not picked up the card for his off the ball incident. It put the pressure on the team and took further toll,” said Zainal.

“We played with ten men in the Malaysia Cup final last year and won. But we cannot be lucky all the time. It is not easy playing with ten men especially when a lot is at stake.

“I hope the whole team took the incident as an experience and will avoid any such incidents in the future. It is an expensive lesson, but it has happened and we cannot be brooding over it. We have to get over it and carry on.”

Zainal said as much as they would have wanted to defend the FA Cup, their exit now helps them prepare better for the AFC fourth round match against Persibu Jayapura at Jayapura on Tuesday.

“It is my dream to see Pahang reach the final of AFC Cup. It is not going to be an easy path, but with us just competing in two tournaments, we need to do better and have better focus to get the best result possible.”

Zainal said that Persibu will be not be an easy opponent as they are the losing semi-finalists last year and are playing at home.

The match will only be played over one leg and Pahang will have no second chance and have to wrap it up in Jayapura.

“But like I said, we have to go for broke to make amend for having already lost two of the three titles won last year.”

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