Pahang triumph over Johor DT in Malaysia Cup final

Pahang FA were crowned as the new Malaysia Cup champions after they effectively dispatched Johor DT on penalties earlier today. The match was level at 2-2 after the end of extra time the Elephants eventually triumphed 5-3 on penalties, completing a double after they clinched the FA Cup trophy last May.

Zainal Abidin’s men started incredibly well, pushing hard on the offensive, and spreading play effectively. Azidan Sarudin in particular, looking solid in the opening 10 minutes, getting into the thick of the action in the middle of the park.

Gopinathan’s pace was visibly their primary attacking outlet and Pahang’s first real chance came through him as well. After they broke away with pace from midfield, Gopi was fed with a through ball by Azidan and the flanker jinked past a defender, before unleashing a shot that was deflected away to safety.

Johor struggled to find their tempo in the first 15 minutes, with Bojan looking visibly pissed on the sidelines. And on the 16th minute mark, they were made to pay for conceding a needless set-piece. Azidan floated an inch perfect free kick into the box, and Dickson made no mistakes by heading hom to put Pahang ahead.

The Elephants continued to dominate possession, but Johor produced two odd chances; Lucho missed the initial one after scuffing his shot, while Safiq fired an attempt wide off target just three minutes later.

Nonetheless, the tempo took a radical shift on the half hour mark, as Jorge Diaz capitalized on a defensive mix-up to fire home and level the score for Bojan’s men. But just three minutes later, it got better. Razman Roslan was adjudged to have hand-balled Mahali’s cross, and the ref immediately pointed to the spot. Lucho Figueroa stepped up and impeccably dispatched the penalty, to put Johor DT ahead.

The turnaround was massive, as Pahang were left shell shocked. No doubt, they did try to regroup and come right back, but Bojan’s men had the upper hand in terms of confidence at this stage.

After the break, Johor DT came out firing on all cylinders, and looked far more superior on and off the ball. Figueroa had a golden attempt to increase their lead, but his shot rattled against the post, much to the agony of Johor fans within the stadium.

But the situation pretty much climaxed on the 70th minute mark, when Saifulnizam was sent off for allegedly punching Amri Yahyah in the stomach. There was a deafening silence amongst Pahang fans, who were seeing images of their hopes fading away. But just minutes later, Dickson Nwakaeme found the back of the net to level the score and send the Pahang fans into rapture!

Bojan’s men kept pushing forward, hoping to capitalize on their numerical advantage and seize a winner, but the introduction of Zesh Rehman consolidated the Pahang defence. Just four minutes before the final whistle though, Jorge Diaz found space inside the box, but the post stood in Johor DT’s way for the second time in the match.

So the match went into extra time. Norshahrul was introduced to strengthen their attack, while Hariss was brought on to shore their defence up. But both sides were visibly tired and the tempo slowed down. It was almost as if, they were looking forward for the spot kicks, which eventually took place.

Summary of Spot Kicks:

Razman Roslan (Pahang) = GOAL
Luciano Figueroa (Johor DT) = GOAL
Damion Stewart (Pahang) = GOAL
Jorge Diaz (Johor DT) = GOAL
Shahrizan Salleh (Pahang) = GOAL
Hariss Harun (Johor DT) = GOAL
Zesh Rehman (Pahang) = GOAL
Norshahrul Idlan (Johor DT) = SAVED
Hafiz Kamal (Pahang) = GOAL

With Norshahrul’s spot kick being saved brilliantly by Khairul Azhan, Hafiz Kamal stepped up to fire home and lead Pahang to an unprecedented triumph in the Malaysia Cup final!

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