Aidil's Kedah reach Malaysia Cup final
Led by Singaporean coach Aidil Sharin, Kedah have reached the Malaysia Cup final after an enthralling 5-5 extra-time draw with Pahang at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan on Saturday (Oct 26).
The score after regulation time was a repeat of last week's 3-3 first-leg draw at the Darulaman Stadium in Alor Setar, but Kedah scored two more in extra-time to progress to the final on the away goals' rule.
Said Aidil: "I have to give credit to all my players. We were down 3-2, but the players rose above themselves and gave 100 per cent."
In the final next Saturday, they will meet Hariss Harun's Johor Darul Ta'zim, who trounced hosts Selangor 3-0 with a Safawi Rasid hat-trick in the second leg to win 5-1 on aggregate.
Yet, it looked like Pahang, and not Kedah, would be the ones going through, as Dollah Salleh's charges held a slight edge following last week's 3-3 draw in Alor Setar.
Knowing that they must score to have any hopes of progressing, Kedah went for the jugular and were rewarded when Spanish striker Fernando Rodriguez drew first blood in the eighth minute.
But Pahang's Nigerian striker Dickson Nwakaeme equalised with a long-range effort in the 33rd minute as both teams went into the break at 1-1.
Argentinian striker Jonathan Bauman restored Kedah's one-goal advantage 11 minutes after half-time, but Pahang responded with a quick-fire double from Namibian striker Lazarus Kaimbi (71st, 76th).
Just when it looked like Pahang would win 3-2, up stepped Kedah veteran Baddrol Bakhtiar to force the tie into extra-time with his 85th-minute free-kick.
Kedah defender Renan Alves (93rd) made it 4-3 on the night, before Pahang's French midfielder Herold Goulon levelled the tie again with a penalty.
But when Rodriguez scored again in the 118th minute, the writing was on the wall for Pahang. Nwakaeme equalised in injury-time, but it was not enough to stop Kedah from reaching their second Cup final in a year.
Aidil's charges had already experienced a Cup final in July, when they defeated last year's Malaysia Cup champions Perak 1-0 after extra-time to lift the Malaysian FA Cup.
But they have not beaten Johor Darul Ta'zim this season, drawing 1-1 at home and losing 2-0 away when they met in the Malaysian Super League.
Said Aidil: "In the final, anything can happen. We go in as the underdogs, we respect our opponents, but once the whistle blows, we will give our 100 per cent."