“The Selangor defeat may come back to haunt us.” Those were the words of Pahang coach Zainal Abidin after dropping points for the second consecutive time on Friday, this time a 2-2 draw to Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) at the Larkin Stadium.
While, Zainal conceded his side were lucky to avoid defeat to the Southern Tigers, he cautioned that picking up maximum points from their remaining six Super League matches may not be good enough to win the title.
With Selangor defeating Sime Darby 1-0 on Saturday, the Red Giants are five points clear at the top. Pahang, who have 29 points, are in second but Terengganu are just a point adrift followed by JDT, who are 26 points but have a game in hand (away to LionsXII on May 20).
“We were lucky to come away from Larkin with a point. Credit goes to my players for not giving up… they kept pushing for goals and were eventually rewarded,” said Zainal.
“We have to win all our remaining matches but the league title race was perhaps decided when Selangor defeated us 1-0 in Kuantan on May 10. It’s not over but that result could be the decisive factor come end of the season. I keeping my fingers crossed though.”
In Larkin, Luciano Figueroa put Bojan Hodak’s side ahead after 27 minutes but national winger Azamuddin Akil drew level in the 36th minute. Former national skipper Safiq Rahim sent the Larkin Stadium crowd into euphoria three minutes into the break as the looked set to collect all three points.
But R, Gopinathan, who was a constant thorn to JDT’s defence, saw his powerful shot spilled by former Harimau Muda starlet Izham Tarmizi into his goal in stoppage time.
Pahang host Terengganu on Saturday before welcoming JDT for the FA Cup semifinal second leg on May 30. In June they face tricky ties against Kelantan, Sarawak, PKNS and bottom placed Perak.