Perak’s edgy season appears to be heading on a downward spiral, after they were effectively eliminated from the Malaysian FA Cup by Terengganu on Saturday, March 10. Despite matching up to Terengganu’s talented team for most of the game, Ashaari Shamsuddin’s goal just before half time was enough to seal the Seladangs’ fate. Perak has now lost three games in a row.
The FA Cup was perhaps Perak’s biggest chance of silverware this year, with Kelantan and Terengganu leading the charge impressively in the Super League. Even during pre-season, Michal Kubala spoke exclusively to Ipoh Echo, stating that the Seladangs were aiming to win at least one cup in 2012.
There was a lot of sanity in that statement because, realistically, Kelantan and Terengganu were always the title challengers, and with the relatively inexperienced squad that we have, cup competition was definitely the ideal chance.
The momentum was initially good when Perak dispatched ATM FC easily in the first round. Michal Kubala’s early goal in the 4th minute transformed the tie, leaving ATM on the back foot for most of the game. The Seladangs could have scored more, but defended well to march into the second round in style.
However, Terengganu were never going to be easy opponents. Yes, Perak did beat them in the Super League earlier this year, a match that is best remembered for Michal Kubala’s stunning pile driver! Having said that, the addition of Francis Forkey Doe and Erison Baiano has since improved Terengganu’s offensive capabilities and Perak was definitely in for a fight at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium.
Norizan Bakar’s men kicked off the game on a bright note, but slowly faded towards the half-time whistle. Their complacency came back to haunt them as Ashaari Shamsuddin opened the scoring inevitably in the 45th minute, and despite Perak coming back strongly in the second half, the deficit score line remained.
One issue that has been bothering the team and fans alike is the lack of goals from their forwards. The fact that a midfielder in Kubala is currently leading the scoring charts for Perak speaks much for their obtuse strikers. Lazar Popovic’s struggles have been well documented, while the other lads are struggling for form.
With the FA Cup now out of reach, Perak will have to focus on finishing well in the Super League. Their next match on March 17 is against league champion, Kelantan. A win could bring back the shine in the Seladangs’ performance. A defeat, however, will be catastrophic.