A brilliantly headed goal by Argentine, Matias Conti, helped Pahang to grab their first Malaysia Cup title in 21 years and I must say that they truly deserved it. The Elephants totally dominated the match at Shah Alam Stadium last night and should have wrapped up the match at the half time.
Conti was tightly marked throughout the match and didn’t get too many sniffs of the ball and can only watch in frustration as his team mates’ squandered chance after chance that could kill off the Red Warriors early. However, Conti, who is the top scorer of the tournament, showed his class when he raised high to convert Azamuddin Akil’s cross with a glancing header that sailed into the back of the net in the 59th minute.
It turned out to be the winning goal and Pahang fans were in full celebration when referee, Nagor Amir Noor Mohd blew the final whistle.
Credit must also be given to Pahang’s coach Dollah Salleh for turning, what I considered at the early season as, an ‘Average Joe’ team to a title winning team.
They played well as a unit and showed more hunger than the Kelantan side.
They also managed to capitalise on the absence of Obinna Nwaneri in Kelantan’s defence by bombing the Red Warriors’ defence with crosses from both flanks. Azamuddin and R. Gopinathan were dangerous every time they were one-on-one with Kelantan’s full back and when the crosses came in, Azizi Mat Rose & Co struggled to keep Matias Conti at bay.
In midfield, Mohd Amirul Hadi was excellent while Kelantan’s skipper, Mohd Badhri Radzi was having one of his off day.
Overall, Pahang was the better team and Kelantan who was the observers’ favourite simply failed to turn up for the match. The only player who came out with some respect from last night’s game is probably their striker, Dickson Nwakaeme who had such a fierce battle with Pahang’s Damion Stewart.