PETALING JAYA – By ERIC SAMUEL: Pahang owe their come-from-behind 3-2 Super League win over star-studded Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) to their FA president Tengku Muda Tengku Abdul Rahman.
Newly-promoted Pahang feared the worst when they found themselves trailing 2-0 to JDT at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan on Tuesday.
Pahang coach Dollah Salleh admitted that his men were rattled by JDT’s two early goals – by skipper Safiq Rahim (11th minute) and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (25th).
But a tactical change – mooted by the Tengku Muda – proved to be the turning point for Pahang.
He told Dollah to take out their two foreign players – strikers Mohd Borji of Morocco and Nikolce Klekarovski of Macedonia – and to replace them with fleet-footed flankers R. Gopinathan and R. Surendran.
Mohd Fauzi Roslan and Azamuddin Akil, who played on the wings in the first half, were then switched to the forward position.
And the move paid off as Fauzi kick-started Pahang’s fightback with his first goal in the 49th minute.
He then levelled the score in the 72nd minute before Surendran capped a fine comeback when he fired home the winner eight minutes from time.
Dollah thanked the Tengku Muda for his input.
“I feared the worst when we were two goals down by the first quarter of the game.
“Luckily, the tactical change – replacing the two foreign strikers – turned the tide in our favour,” said Dollah from Kuantan yesterday.
“It was the Tengku Muda’s idea. He came down from the VIP box to the changing room at half-time and suggested that I try out the local players.
“I agreed and guess what … it worked.
“There was more pace and penetration upfront, with Gopi and Suren providing the sparks from the flanks. This had the Johor defence in sixes and sevens.
“Johor did well in the first half but couldn’t cope with our tactical change. It’s a great way to start the season in front of the home fans.
“It is just the beginning and I’ve told the boys to stay focused because we have a long season ahead of us.”
Pahang, who won promotion to the top flight by virtue of finishing top in the playoffs, can be proud of their giant-killing act as JDT fielded a star-studded line-up that included former Spanish international Daniel Guiza and top local buys Norshahrul, Safee Sali, Safiq Rahim, Azmi Muslim, Mohd Zafuan Abdul Razak, Mohd Aidil Zafuan, Muslim Ahmad and Nurul Azwan Roya.
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