Sarawak’s ’12th player’ will demolish PahangOctober 22, 2013
Pahang are aware of the threat posed by the 12th player of the Sarawak team … the passionate home fans.
The East Malaysians have a feared reputation at home since the fairytale days of the famous “Ngap-Sayot” era inspired by the legendary Awang Mahyan, who led an all-local line-up to their first ever Malaysia Cup semi-final in 1988.
Now, the stage is set for the Sarawak fans to rally behind the home side in the all-important return leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-finals at the Sarawak Stadium in Kuching on Saturday.
It is not an impossible task as the home team need to overturn a two-goal deficit after losing the first leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-finals 3-1 in Kuantan on Saturday.
Expecting the fierce Sarawak onslaught in Kuching, Pahang look set to adopt an attacking brand of football to ward of the danger.
Argentine striker Matias Conti said their 3-1 win over Sarawak in the first-leg was a good result but felt that it would not be safe to hold on to the two-goal cushion against a disciplined Sarawak side noted for their spirited performance in front of their ardent home fans.
“We cannot take any chances and will have to go for more goals if we are to qualify to the final,” said Conti, who has pledged to put his name on the score-sheet in Kuching.
Pahang’s pillar of strength in defence Damion Strewart said it would be foolish to write off Sarawak.
“The home team will always rise to the occasion. Look how we beat Sarawak (3-1) in the first leg. The fan support was awesome. Now we have to tread with caution. Everyone knows Sarawak are a hard team to beat at home,” said the Jamaican.
The East Malaysians boast an almost perfect home record with 11 wins, a draw and a defeat this season. In the Malaysia Cup, they have won all four of their home matches including thrashing Super League side Perak 6-1 in the group competition.
The Sarawak forwards, led by Bosnian Muamer Salibasic, Asri Chuchu and Bobby Gonzales, will find Stewart a stumbling block in the Pahang defence. The Jamaican was oustanding in the heart of defence when he shut off PKNS FC’s hotshot Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh when they beat the club side in the quarter-finals.
Sarawak coach Robert Alberts is upbeat of their chances in the home leg.
“It ain’t over yet,” said the Dutchman, who has been a revelation leading the East Malaysians to win the Premier League title and earning them promotion to the Super League next season.