A depleted PKNP FC side minus their departed in-from striker in Shahrel Fikri have tipped Pahang FA as favourites to win the FA Cup second-leg semifinals on Saturday.
The young, gallant club side held the Elephants to a 1-1 away draw in the first-leg last Saturday, but are expected to play second fiddle to their much superior opponents.
“Pahang have the complete package, they have quality local and foreign imports to get the job done,” PKNP coach Abu Bakar Fadzim told Berita Harian.
“We are a small club, and we come into this match as underdogs.”
But PKNP stand a good chance of creating a shock upset against the cup masters, who could be without their attacking imports Mohamadou Sumareh and Patrick Cruz.
Abu Bakar has rallied his troops to give it everything they’ve got against the 2017 finalists.
“I hope my players take full advantage of playing at home. It’s pivotal they do not make any mistakes to allow our opponents to punish us.” he added.
Abu Bakar was resigned to losing his star player Shahrel, who joined Thai League 1 side Nakhon Ratchasima on loan earlier this week.
The Malaysia international was in good form with five league goals before he left, but his coach was willing to allow Shahrel to expand his horizons in a more competitive league.
Much of the team’s leadership responsibility will fall on young forward Hafiz Ramdan, now that Shahrel is gone.
The other semifinals meanwhile will see Selangor FA take on PKNS FC at Shah Alam Stadium with a 4-0 advantage.
The Red Giants are all but through to their first FA Cup since 2009, thanks to a hat-trick from Spanish striker Rufino Segovia in the first-leg at Cheras Stadium last week.
The FA Cup final will take place on July 7 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Photo credit: PKNP FC