Saturday, 9 May 2015

FA Cup Semi-Final Preview: Pahang host Kelantan, Terengganu visit LionsXII

Photo: LionsXII

The first leg of the 2015 Malaysia FA Cup semi-finals take place this weekend with Kelantan and Terengganu hoping to take the first step to making it an East Coast final.

Malaysia FA Cup Semi-Final: LionsXII vs Terengganu

Not only have LionsXII won their last three matches, they are also unbeaten at home in six matches this season, good omens ahead of the visit of the Turtles this weekend. Khairul Amri is their top scorer in the FA Cup with three goals, and he will spearhead their attack yet again, possibly alongside his half-brother Khairul Nizam. Afiq Yunos and Samuel Benjamin continue to be long-term absentees, while Shahdan Sulaiman might make another appearance after his return from injury against Sime Darby.

The Singaporeans will also be boosted by the availability of Faris Ramli, Sahil Suhaimi, Christopher van Huizen, and Zakir Samsudin after they were released from SEA Games training for this match. Safuwan Baharudin is also in contention following his return from loan at Melbourne City.

In the other camp, Terengganu will have to make do without top scorer Paulo Rangel, after the Brazilian was suspended for accumulating two yellow cards. This will be the first game he’ll miss this season, and it will be interesting to see how the Turtles cope. Coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim could hand a start to Abdul Manaf Mamat, or new recruit Issey Nakajima-Farran (who has netted two goals in his last two games), to partner Norshahrul Idlan Talaha up front.

The good news is that Terengganu have scored in all 14 matches they’ve played in this season. The bad news is that they’ve only kept two clean sheets during that period, conceding nine goals in their last four matches. They have no injury concerns.

Malaysia FA Cup Semi-Final: Pahang vs Kelantan

Defending champions Pahang will be banking on their impressive recent run of victories to help them book an early spot in the FA Cup final. The Elephants have won their last four matches, netting twelve goals, though the vast majority of those came in a 7-4 win over Yadanarbon in the AFC Cup. Nonetheless, their excellent home record of just one defeat in eleven matches in all competitions will give them the confidence that they can keep Azraai Khor’s side at bay.


Ex-Kelantan striker Dickson Nwakaeme may just come back and haunt his former side. The Nigerian is Pahang’s top scorer in the FA Cup, having scored thrice so far, and is coming off a good run of form of goals and assists. His strike partner Matias Conti is also flourishing with three goals in his last three matches, and the Elephants will also be boosted by their recent ascent to the top of the Super League. However, they will be without central defender Damion Stewart, who will be suspended for accumulating two yellow cards in previous rounds.

Meanwhile, visitors Kelantan are wary of the threat posed by Pahang’s devastating attack, particularly as they are a side that are still trying to gel. Coach Azraai Khor told The Star, “I’ll be happy if we can leave Kuantan with an away goal. That’ll be an ideal result for us considering the number of changes in the team.”

The Red Warriors recruited three players in the recent April transfer window, and all three are set to start the match. Austin Amutu and Erwin Carillo have shaken off knocks, and should partner Brazilian Gilmar da Silva in attack as they did to such devastating effect against Sime Darby in the previous round. Amiridzwan Taj joined his home state from ATM, and will make his debut. The only blot in their copybook will be the absence of skipper Badhri Radzi, who did not travel to Kuantan due to injury.

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