- By FARIK ZOLKEPLI -
KUALA TERENGGANU: Turtles coach Mat Zan Mat Aris is glad that his gamble to play with just one striker paid off as his team beat Perak 1-0 at home in the FA Cup second round on Saturday.
The defending champions, playing with just Liberian Francis Forkey Doe upfront, booked their place in the quarter-finals thanks to Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin’s volleyed goal from the top of the box at the stroke of half-time at the Sultan Ismail Stadium.
Ashaari could have doubled their lead in the 54th minute but his powerful shot from the edge of the box was well saved by Mohd Nasril Nourdin.
Mat Zan was quick to attribute the win to his chosen 4-1-4-1 formation.
“It allowed us to attack fluidly while the defence remained strong, especially in the wake of Perak’s second-half onslaught,” he said.
“We had a lot of chances to add to our tally but were let down by poor finishing.”
The Turtles were without striker Abdul Hadi Yahya, goalkeeper Mohd Sharbinee Alawee Rahim and captain Marzuki Yusof but still looked solid at the back, with defender Muslim Ahmad wearing the captain’s armband.
“Despite the injuries, we managed to nick a win against a formidable opponent,” Mat Zan said.
“As the FA Cup champions, we must produce a better performance in the quarter-finals.”
Mat Zan also revealed that Marzuki will be out of action for quite a while as he will undergo surgery on his knee.
Terengganu face Singapore Lions XII in the last eight and Mat Zan has cautioned his team to treat their rivals with respect despite having beaten them in the Super League. The Turtles will host the first leg on March 24 before heading to Singapore on March 27 for the return.
“Hopefully, Hadi and Sharbinee will be back for the clash,” he said.
Perak coach Norizan Bakar said he was proud of his team’s performance.
“What more can I say … we gave it our best,” he said.
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