#MatchdayMadness: The FA Cup final from a first-timer’s diary

To be honest, this is my first time covering the Malaysia FA Cup final. I didn’t know what to expect, I had no idea what the atmosphere was going to be like. I’ve been to the Shah Alam stadium for other matches; but I was told that the FA Cup is a different experience altogether.

Two teams fought their to the FA Cup final, Pahang and Kedah. Pahang defeated Negeri Sembilan 2-1 (3-1 on agg), while Kedah destroyed Terengganu 3-0 (4-0) on aggregate. I watched both matches, and saw how intense the fight was. The FA Cup is a major trophy of the season, and it was evident that both Kedah and Pahang really, REALLY, wanted it to take it home.

Photo: ESPN

Friday – 19th May 

On Friday, 19th May, I went to the Shah Alam stadium for the pre-match conference. We were scheduled to meet with captains and coaches from both teams and talk to them about their plans for the FA Cup.

I arrived at Shah Alam Stadium around 3.45 pm, the press conference was scheduled to start at 4pm. When we were told that the press conference was going to be delayed, I walked out to look for the restroom. But instead of the restroom, I bumped into Kedah’s team captain, Khairul Helmi.

Now, I’ve heard that this is guy is the one of the friendliest footballer, but I was still a bit nervous approaching him, and I didn’t exactly know how friendly he was. But I mustered all the courage I had to speak up.

“Hi Khairul. Nak ambik photo boleh?” I asked.

“Boleh.” the captain humbly replied.

I quickly held up my phone took a shot.

“Dari mane ni?” he asked.

“Dari FourthOfficial. Ingat tak article pasal Wolverine tu?”

“Oh ya! Fourthofficial.” he replied. At this point, I wasn’t sure if he really remembered, or if he was just trying to be nice. Either way, he had to go, and I made my way back to the press conference room.

If you guys haven’t read it, here it is:

4.30 pm : Press conference

I cannot deny. After spending months writing a gazillion articles about Kedah’s interim coach Nidzam Adzha, Kedah’s captain Khairul Helmi, Pahang’s head coach Dollah Salleh, and Padang’s captain Matt Davies, it was almost surreal to meet them in person.

During the Pahang press conference, I decided to pose a question to Pahang’s captain, Matt Davies.

“Matt, what’s your game plan for tomorrow night?”

Matt Davies smirked, as he turned slow-mo towards Pahang’s head coach, Dollah Salleh.

“Should I tell her our plan?” he asked. The entire room erupted into laughter. Damn, I forgot he was part Australian, and how wit and sarcasm is in his blood!

Photo: FourthOfficial

After the press conference we went on to watch both Kedah and Pahang training on the pitch, before calling it a day. By then, we also noticed the blooming bromance between Matt Davies and Khairul Helmi. If I was writing for DailyMail UK, this story’s headline will read “Bromance of the captains: Matt Davies and Khairul Helmi the new BFF in town”.

Sadly I don’t. But this tweet from Padang Bola Sepak sums it up:

Hmmm.. and what would be a good name for the band?

Saturday – 20th May 

After getting all the news and articles up for the day, I fuelled up on late lunch (waffles) and made my way to the stadium around 6pm. BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER.

The roads were jammed up with cars, all of them presumably heading towards to the Shah Alam Stadium. I absolutely underestimated the traffic. Luckily, my Uber driver knew a shortcut, and used an alternative route to head to the stadium.

Photo: FourthOfficial

As soon as I arrived at the stadium, I rushed to get my media pass (if you’re reading this, Vijhay, thanks for giving me directions).

Right after that, I found my colleague and we made our way around the stadium to soak up the atmosphere. We spotted the usuals; there were plenty of stalls selling fake merchandise, plenty of drinks, burgers, hot dogs, nuggets, and lots more. There were booths where fans could participate in activities while waiting to enter the stadium. There were also scalpers selling match tickets at ridiculous prices! ?

As we were walking, we kept hearing chants from inside the stadium, and it grew louder and louder, so we wanted to get in on it. So after stocking up on some snacks (nuggets, burgers, and milo ais), we made our way into the stadium.

OH. MY. GOD. The stadium was already JAM-PACKED at 7.30 pm. All the green-yellow jersey bearers took up one half of the stadium, and the black-white jersey bearers on the other.

Photo: FourthOfficial

For the next one hour, both Kedah and Pahang fans took turns to sing their team songs, waving their balloons and banners. Led by their own ultras, both Kedah and Pahang fans were consistently trying to outdo each other, and it was one of those moments that just gives you the chills! The atmosphere was electrifying, I’ve never felt anything quite like that before.

About 8.15 pm, the players from both teams came on to the pitch to warm up, riling up the crowd even more. The fans once again tried to outdo each other, at the same time showering support to their respective teams.

At 8.50 pm, the players made their way to the pitch in their full kits, armed with determination, valor, and devotion to bring home the trophy.

Photo: FourthOfficial

Upon kick-off, the fans roared in support of their players, and the chants relentlessly went on throughout the entire game.

Kedah scored an early goal, thanks to Ken Ilso’s tap-in from Syazwan’s cross. Kiko Insa picked up two yellow cards for fouls, leaving Pahang to fend for themselves with only 10 men.

Photo: TV3

Kedah capitalized on that and scored one more, this time it was Baddrol Bakhtiar who latched on to the loose ball from just outside the box and shot. But just seconds before the halftime whistle — none of us saw this coming — Yamil’s magical cross found Jae-Won and it was GOAL for Pahang!


In the second half, there was more action from Pahang, who seemed to dominate the game. Baddrol pulled another stunner, and Sumareh brought the score up 2-3 to put Pahang back in the game. However, the Elephants found it hard to penetrate the Red Eagles’ defence at the after, and Kedah fans already started celebrating 5 minutes before full-time.


At the final whistle, needless to say, Kedah fans went crazy, they jumped around, clapped and cheered for their team on top of their lungs. Pahang fans left the stadium almost immediately, while Pahang players fell to the ground in utmost disappointment. It was heartbreaking to watch!

Photo: FMLLP

While Kedah players basked in the moment and soaked in all the glory, pitch invaders started climbing over the barricades to run towards their favourite players and get a close-up glimpse of them. Kedah players then had to be escorted out for safety reasons.

We proceeded to the post-match press conference close to midnight to have a chat with the head coach and players. As soon as the press conference ended, I reached forward and tried to take a photo of Kedah’s captain, Khairul Helmi.

Photo: FourthOfficial

“Hah ni nak buat artikel ape pulak? Nak edit foto lagi?” Khairul Helmi said as he chuckled, picking up his bag.

“Bukan saya lah. Itu Keesh (my editor) yang buat.”

“Oh. Nanti jangan lupa tag okay.” the captain said as he was escorted out of the room. Now I finally understand why he’s so popular among local football fans!

I must say that those two days spent at the Shah Alam Stadium was quite an experience. From getting up close to the head coaches and team captains, asking them questions, watching the teams train on the pitch, being in a jam-packed stadium with the crowd relentlessly chanting, live-tweeting and streaming while sipping on what was probably the sweetest milo ais in the world, getting stuck in massive traffic after the match — I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I only wish I had brought my skeptical friends with me, the ones who always say local football is not as exciting to watch.

Till the next one!

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