Kedah just about edge a resilient 10-men Pahang 3-2 in an adrenaline-rushed and entertaining final.
Kedah scored thanks to Baddrol Bakhtiar’s brace and Ken Ilso but Pahang made it harder for them thanks to goals from Heo Jae-Won and Mohamadou Sumareh despite having Kiko Insa sent off just after 32 minutes.
Both sides were evenly energetic, but they are not able to penetrate the final third for a clear-cut chance until after 20 minutes.
Baddrol Bakhtiar found Syazwan Zainon on the left with a beautiful long ball from his own half. Syazwan then took on a defender with a mazy run and was able to cross the ball across the goal and all Ilso have to do is to tap it in as Kedah took the lead.
It got better for Kedah and worse for Pahang. Angry that a foul on him wasn’t given, Kiko lashed out at Rizal Ghazali in front of the referee, leaving him no choice but award a 2nd yellow just minutes after receiving his first.
This allowed Kedah to grow more confidence, despite Matheus’ clear cut chance to equalize on the 37th minute. They got their 2nd a minute in the first minute of stoppage time.
Pahang failed to deal with Syazwan’s cross and Baddrol latched on to the loose ball from just outside the box and shoot with pinpoint accuracy as the ball snuck inside Azraie’s post.
But in the last action of the half, Kedah failed to clear a Pahang corner. It allowed Yamil Romero to cross the ball back for Jae-Won, whose shot was heavily deflected and the ball went over Ifwat and into the net to set-up a nervy 2nd half.
After the restart, Pahang went guns blazing and was all over Kedah with each of their attacks more threatening than the last. They thought they have their equalizer, only for Yamil Romero to mis-kicke Matt Davies’ cutback horribly.
And it proved to be fatal. Against the run of play on the 73rd minute, Liridon with a through pass to Ilso on the left and Azraie failed horribly to deal with it. To his horror, Baddrol was lurking on the right and tapped in the ball for an easy third goal.
It wasn’t over though. Yamil provided his second assist of the night when his cross from the left by the goal-line was met by Sumareh who rose highest to head it in.
This set-up a very tense final ten minutes with Pahang continuing their relentless attack. Sadly though for the Tok Gajah, they were unable to find the improbable equalizer.
Kedah inevitably emerged as the 2017 FA Cup winners.