Thursday, 21 May 2015

Malaysia FA Cup final: Amri will be Lions' hero says Quak


Gabriel Quak is confident that Khairul Amri can be the difference when LionsXII take on Kelantan in the FA Cup final on Saturday. Photo credit: LionsXII.

Winger Gabriel Quak believes Khairul Amri will be the difference when LionsXII take on Kelantan FA in the 2015 Malaysia FA Cup final in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday night.

The Singapore side booked their spot after prevailing on away goals in a 4-4 draw on aggregate with Terengganu in their semifinal. After a 2-1 first leg win at Jalan Besar Stadium on May 9, they rode their luck in a 3-2 loss in the second leg at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium last Saturday

Having played a pivotal role in both matches, Quak is ready to conquer the imposing 90,000-seater Bukit Jalil Stadium.

"As footballers, this is the big crowd and big occasion that we dream of," said the fleet-footed wide man. "Personally, it's not an issue. I love playing in front of big crowds. I even like the fact that opposition fans boo me, it makes me want to prove myself even more. And this Saturday, the stadium will have more Kelantan fans because in a way, they are at home, so we need to soak up the atmosphere and use it to our advantage."

Quak has hit a rich vein of form this season, with four goals and one assist -- with two of his goals coming against Kedah and KL Spa in the FA Cup. But he reckons it will be veteran Amri and his strike partner Khairul Nizam who could decide what will be "a final that will have all the ingredients of a classic cup tie".

He added: "When Amri is on form, no one can stop him. What is different this season is that he has forged a good partnership with Nizam. That aside, all of us midfielders must push up and support them whenever they get the ball, because Kelantan are bound to close them down very quickly.

"Amri may be getting most of the credit but Nizam has proved that he can handle playing against big defenders in recent games and what he gives us is the aerial prowess that we don't have much of. So if the two of them can combine again in the final, it is anyone's game to win."

Singapore international Khairul Amri is LionsXII's leading goalscorer in the FA Cup with five goals. Photo credit: LionsXII.

LionsXII may be going into the final full of confidence, but their record suggests otherwise, with only one win and six losses in their previous meetings.

The most recent matchup was on Feb. 15 where they were dealt a 2-0 away loss. Quak, who was in the starting lineup for that game, reckons the LionsXII are a different proposition now. He is adamant that it will not be a repeat of the February result on Saturday.

He said: "In the 2-0 loss against Kelantan, Nizam wasn't fully fit and had to come off in the first half. This game, it will be different.

"Everyone is talking about their foreign strikers but for me, Piya [Badhri Radzi] is the one to watch. He is a player who always rises for the big occasion and his energy in the middle of the park along with his set piece ability makes him special.

"We also have to keep an eye on Wan Zaharulnizam [Zakaria] and Wan Zack [Haikal]. Two players that I know well and are always capable of that something special.

"Having said that, I think our defenders like Madhu [Mohana], Safuwan [Baharudin] and Zul[fahmi] Arifin can handle them. We won't give our game away but it should be a soak and strike tactic, something we have done pretty well this season. It's a final after all, so both teams will be extra cautious."

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) announced that each team will be allocated 30,000 tickets, with 20,000 going online to neutrals. The 24-year-old said he could not wait to step into the red-hot cauldron of Bukit Jalil, even though it could be a nerve-jangling 90 minutes.

"Singapore fans, Kelantan fans, I just want to play. If these type of matches don't excite you, then you shouldn't be a professional footballer. We promise to do our best. As for the fans, travel safe and see you on Saturday."


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