By ERIC SAMUEL
PETALING JAYA: Sime Darby FC are on the verge of creating history by becoming the first club side to make the FA Cup final.
The Plantation Giants have their noses in front after coach Ismail Zakaria’s men snatched a surprise 2-1 win over defending champions Terengganu in the semi-final first-leg in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday.
The Turtles have a mountain to climb and need to pip the Premier League side by a two-goal margin in the return-leg at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium on May 1.
The writing is on the wall for beleaguered Terengganu coach Mat Zan Mat Aris as failure will certainly increase the mounting call for his removal.
The Turtles will have to come out firing on all cylinders for the return-leg as Sime Darby have the advantage of having scored two away goals in the first leg.
But Sime Darby’s task has been made more difficult as they will be without prolific striker Patrick ‘Ronaldinho’ Wleh, who has scored 15 goals in 18 matches. The 21-year-old Liberian international, who has scored in every match in the FA Cup, will be serving a one-match suspension together with back-up striker Irme Mat.
Sime Darby secretary cum assistant team manager Zainal Amat said the battle is far from won and they have to work hard for another 90 minutes to record a historic first.
“It will be a great achievement to be the first club side to enter the final in the 22-year history of the competition,” Zainal said yesterday.
Former Perak hitman Razali Umar Kandasmy and Mohd Zamri Hassan are expected to lead the charge in the absence of their main strikers.
Zainal said new signing Leandro Santos Pinto from Brazil will man the engine room to ward off the Terengganu assault led by the fleet-footed Abdul Manaf Mamat, Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin, Abdul Hadi Yahya, Ismail Faruqi and Joseph Kalang Tie.
“Terengganu have a formidable set of players but coach Ismail is working on a game plan to ensure that we don’t lose this golden opportunity to make the final,” said Zainal.
Substitute Syukor Saidin scored the winner deep into stoppage time in Kuala Terengganu. Wleh put the club side ahead in the 52nd minute but his Liberian counterpart Francis Doe equalised for Terengganu in the 65th minute.
Sime Darby look set to continue their fairy tale run in the FA Cup. Earlier, they took the scalps of Super League teams Sabah and Johor FC en route to the semi-finals.
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