With the Liga Super Malaysia title staying in Johor for at least another year, attentions are turned towards the race for this year’s silver medal. Two candidates for 2nd place, Pahang FA and Perak FA, faced off at the Darul Makmur Stadium in their Matchweek 10 game on Saturday night. Pahang knew that a win would keep them in contention for 2nd place, while Perak would only need to avoid defeat to cement their current position as Liga Super runners-up. And avoiding defeat is what the Bos Gaurus did – despite going down 3-0 in half-time to the Tok Gajah, Perak rallied their spirits and forced a 3-3 draw, a result that ended Pahang’s aspirations for this year’s silver medal.
Pahang started the match off brightly and they took an early lead in the 8th minute. Nik Sharif Haseefy sent a low diagonal pass towards R. Dinesh, who easily rifled in a shot that defeated Perak goalkeeper Hafizul Hakim. Nik Sharif then turned from provided to scorer in the 26th minute, receiving a long ball from the midfield before outsmarting Perak’s Rafiuddin Roddin to earn himself a clear shot at Hafizul’s goal. Wasting no time, Nik Sharif fired a powerful shot towards the top right corner of the goal, doubling his team’s advantage.
Former Persela Lamongan danger man Ivan Carlos then made it 3-0 for Pahang in the 41st minute, firing a powerful shot into an empty Perak goal after Faisal Halim had lured Hafizul out of his post prior to sending a through ball to Carlos for the Brazilian to deliver the killing blow.
With Pahang 3-0 up on half-time, it seems that the Tok Gajah are coasting towards a comfortable victory at their own backyard.
However, Perak started the second half as a completely different beast and two minutes into the second stanza the Bos Gaurus managed to pull one back. Perak midfielder Partiban Janasekaran attempted an audacious chip from outside the Pahang penalty area and much to everyone’s surprise, the ball curved its way into Helmi Eliza’s goal.
The goal ignited the fighting spirit within Mehmet Durakovic’s Perak and in the 84th minute they managed to reduce the deficit into just one goal. An in-form Shahrel Fikri plundered Perak’s second goal of the night, making good use of a cross given to him from the left wing with a powerful curling shot that defeated a diving Helmi.
With Perak now trailing Pahang 3-2, the Bos Gaurus knew that if they keep on pressing into the dying minutes of the match, they might be able to salvage a point from this encounter. And salvation was exactly what Perak got in the dying minutes of the match – a free-kick from Nazirul Naim prompted a skirmish inside the Pahang penalty box, which resulted with the ball being cleared away from the area. The ball wasn’t cleared far enough though and it fell into the possession of Partiban, who attempted another crack at Pahang’s goal from outside the area. Partiban’s powerful shot struck the Pahang crossbar, before descending down towards a stunned Helmi and into the Pahang goal, effectively pegging the Tok Gajah back into square one with only seconds to go.
The 3-3 scoreline remained that way until full-time, a result that extinguished Pahang’s hopes of a top two finish while at the same time cementing Perak’s position in the race for that precious AFC Cup spot.
Saturday night’s Matchweek 10 action also saw Terengganu FC stepping up to become Perak’s closest challengers for 2nd place, smashing three goals past FELDA United without any replies at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Jengka. The 3-0 defeat also jeopardizes FELDA’s position in the Liga Super table – now second-bottom, the Fighters must win their final game of the season away at Selangor FA and hope for other results to go their way if they wish to remain in the Liga Super for the 2021 season.
Speaking about Selangor, the Red Giants managed to obliterate last-placed PDRM FA 7-0 at the KLFA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, with both Ifedayo Olusegun and Sean Selavaraj scoring braces. Singapore international Safuwan Baharudin also joined in the fun with a goal, with both Brendan Gan and Rufino Segovia scoring a piece as well.
With the results of Matchweek 10 effectively closing the door for a top two finish for Pahang, UiTM FC, Selangor, and Melaka United, the race for a spot in the 2021 AFC Cup boils down to a three-way showdown between Perak, Terengganu, and Kedah FA. Kedah are yet to play their Matchweek 10 game, with the Red Eagles scheduled to host Melaka on Monday. With Alor Setar still cordoned off due to COVID-19, Kedah will once again use the KLFA Stadium to host the Mousedeers and they are determined to win their second “home away from home” match to keep pace with both Perak and Terengganu.