My way does it

November 2, 2014

Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan’s opting to take the path out of the norm,  paid dividends.

 Though he agreed that he uses the most of his experience as a former International, Zainal also does things his own way.

Pahang retained the Malaysia Cup after a 5-3 win in the penalty shootout after 120 minutes of play saw them level at 2-2 with Super League winners Johor Darul Takzim.

Surprisingly their penalty takers were not any of the forwards or goal getters in the team.

The first four penalty takers- Razman Roslan, Damion Stewart, Shahrizan Salleh, and Zesh Rehman – were all defenders while central midfielder Hafiz Kamal had scored the winning kick after JDT’s Norshahrul Idlan Talaha saw his effort saved.

“When I was a player, the coaches always pick the strikers to take the penalties. I didn’t want to adopt that strictly,” said Zainal, who started off his career as defender before playing up front.

“For me, whoever has a more cool head and confidence to convert is given the nod. I observed in training that the defenders were more comfortable.”

While the players get the credit for delivering only their second Malaysia Cup in 22 years, Zainal’s 11-year service to the state must not go unnoticed. During which, he played various roles.

“I love football and although I stopped playing, my soul is still very much debted to the game. So I want give back to football what I have learnt.

“It’s been 11 years here and I have been grateful to given the chance to part of the Pahang FA. I am satisfied I have won it all in Malaysia as a coach but I’m still hungry for more.”

Zainal’s credentials as a coach reads – one Super League (2004), two FA Cups (2006 & 2014) and a Malaysia Cup (2014). He was the assistant team manager when Dollah Salleh guided the Elephants to the Malaysia Cup last year.

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