Pahang FA head coach Dollah Salleh reckons it is a real waste for his side to miss out on next year’s AFC Champions League qualifiers, after he masterminded the Elephants to an emphatic FA Cup success following the 2-0 victory over Selangor FA.
“Personally I do want us to play in Asia. We have plenty of quality players to take us far in the tournament. It is a real loss for us not to play in the competition, but we have to respect the decision of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM),” Dollah told FOX Sports Asia.
Goals from Nor Azam Abdul Azih and Patrick Cruz on Saturday meant Pahang banished the heartache of losing at last year’s final to Kedah FA.
By right, they would compete in the qualifiers by virtue of winning the FA Cup while Malaysia Super League (MSL) winners get a direct entry into the groupstages.
But FAM had banned Pahang from competing in any continental tournament for two years after they turned down the invitation to compete in this year’s AFC Cup after Kedah failed to obtain their AFC License.
— Pahang FA (@MediaPhgFA) July 7, 2018
Dollah, was, however elated to have finally tasted his maiden FA Cup success as coach.
“This is how we can perform if we have all our best players. Tonight (Saturday) I had my best line-up and we played like how we wanted. We couldn’t be complacent as Selangor came at us, but our players were superb.”
Selangor head coach Nazliazmi Nasir admitted his side’s inexperience on the big stage was the difference.
“Pahang’s strikeforce were really effective, and defensively they had experienced players like Muslim Ahmad and Bunyamin Umar who knew how to cope in big occasions like this,” said Nazliazmi.
“We tried to play a high pressing game against them, but they read our game well. In any case, this certainly served as a good experience for our young players. They will be more mature after this.”
Victory meant Pahang have now lifted the FA Cup three times, having also won in 2006 and 2014.
Both teams will have little time to recover from their final excursions, with the Malaysia Super League set to resume in a few days.
Pahang will put their silverware aside to welcome the visit of PKNP FC on Wednesday, while Selangor travel to face bottom side Kelantan FA on the same day.