Pahang have qualified for the Malaysia Cup knock out rounds despite suffering a 2-1 loss to LionsXII at the Darul Makmur Stadium.
The Elephant will have to thank Group A leaders Felda United, who defeated Johor Darul Takzim II 3-1 in the other match to enable Pahang’s passage to quarterfinals with one match to spare.
Felda lead the group on 10 points while Pahang have nine. LionsXII are third with five points while JDT II are on four points.
Pahang led the first half 1-0 thanks to Dickson Nwakaeme’s finish in the 12th minute.
But the match was far from straight forward as LionsXII came with all guns blazing to stay alive in the competition.
Khairul Nizam tested stand-in keeper Nasril Nourdin twice in the opening 10 minutes. Nasril was fielded in place of regular Khairul Azhan Khalid for the secomd game running.
Khairul has a swell in his ankle and Zainal didn’t want to risk him.
LionsXII continued the pressure in the second half and were rewarded as they turned the tie around.
Suffian Anuar made the most of Madhu Mohana cross to head home an equaliser in the 51st minute.
Madhu turned hero for Fandi Ahmad’s side with the winner, again a header from Faris Ramli’s cross, in the 83rd minute.