By ERIC SAMUEL
PETALING JAYA: The FA Cup title chase is fast developing into another East Coast affair with Terengganu and Kelantan through to the last four of the knock-out competition.
A repeat east coast final is on the cards barring any upsets in the semi-finals next month when defending champions Terengganu take on Premier League side Sime Darby FC while Kelantan face Kedah.
Last year, the 22nd edition of the FA Cup was of special significance because it was the first major showdown between two east coast teams in the 90-year history of Malaysian football.
The Red Warriors under Bojan Hodak are gunning for their first-ever FA Cup victory since the inaugural competition kicked off in 1990 while Terengganu won in 2000 and last year. But the Turtles will have to be wary of giant killers Sime Darby FC, who have scalped two top-flight teams en route to the semi-finals.
They defeated Sabah (2-0) in the first round and showed Johor FC the exit (5-3 on aggregate) in the quarter-finals. Earlier, in the second round, they beat Premier League side USM FC (2-0).
Sime Darby FC coach Ismail Zakaria said the players are on cloud nine after making their first semi-finals since their debut in the M-League two years ago.
“Yes, the level of confidence is higher and the players are determined to put up a fight till the end,” said Ismail yesterday.
Sime Darby FC’s Liberian international Patrick Wleh was the toast of the Premier League side after scoring a brace each in the two-leg quarter-finals. Ismail’s team won both legs (3-2, 2-1).
The club will again be counting on Wleh and his compatriot Sengbah Kennedy (midfielder) – to lead the charge.
In fact, the duo have been instrumental in Sime Darby’s steady rise in the Premier League, where they are now fourth with 15 points.
“There are no stars in the squad and we have nothing to lose but all to gain in the semi-finals,” said Ismail, whose team will travel to Kuala Terengganu for the first-leg match on April 21.
Terengganu clinched their ticket with a narrow 1-0 win on aggregate over Lions XII in the quarter-finals.
Kelantan, in contrast, advanced with a comfortable 5-0 aggregate win over KL SPA and are scheduled to meet Kedah in the semis.
- Sime Darby and Pahang stun Super League sides
- Fancied Terengganu out to continue east coast domination
- Sime Darby plotting for a home kill
- Sime Darby FC rue missed chances in slim win
- Fierce East Coast rivalry expected to reach its climax in last-eight tie