Terengganu won't fear Malaysia Cup champs Kedah in FA Cup semifinals
Coach Irfan Bakti wants his Terengganu side to show no fear when they make the trip to the Malaysian west coast to face Kedah in the first leg of the FA Cup semifinals on Sunday.
Second-tier Terengganu clawed their way into the last four of the Cup competition when they prevailed 4-1 on penalties against Malaysia Super League (MSL) side Sarawak last Friday after they were tied 2-2 on aggregate.
Following relegation to the Premier League last season, the Turtles now have a chance to turn around their fortunes, and book a first FA Cup final berth since 2011.
But first, they have to navigate 180 minutes against the 2016 Malaysia Cup champions who will start as favourites, despite a recent blip in form.
"Our team morale is high at the moment. After beating Sarawak, we also overcame Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) II in the league and that has given us some momentum for this game," Irfan told ESPN FC.
"Kedah are a strong team and we respect them, but this is a Cup game and anything can happen. The main thing is my boys perform their best, and not be intimidated by them."
Irfan's foremost concern would be Kedah's midfield maestros Liridon Krasniqi and Baddrol Bakhtiar.
This is especially so, since 66-year-old Irfan will be without both Abdul Latiff Suhaimi and Lutfulla Turaev to run his engine room.
"Both players are a loss to me, but I will have Ismail Faruqi returning so that is good news," Irfan said. "I think we have a slight advantage in terms of physical preparation, as we rest an extra day compared to them.
"Away goals are important, so we will set out to score. But Kedah have goals in them and we must be cautious in defence."
The other last four matchup sees Pahang welcome the visit of Premier League leaders Negeri Sembilan to Darul Makmur Stadium.
The Elephants dumped out Cup holders JDT 4-3 on aggregate last Sunday, and will be slight favourites against the visitors from Seremban.
Pahang will, however, be without their in-form attacker Mohamadou Sumareh. The Gambian is suspended for his involvement in a scuffle with some JDT players in their 2-1 second leg quarterfinal defeat at Larkin Stadium.
Dollah Salleh is upset with the decision as he feels his key player is innocent.
But the Pahang coach will have to make do without Sumareh against a Negeri side who are unbeaten in the second tier as they look to make a swift return to the MSL.
Malaysia FA Cup semifinals (Sunday, 9 p.m.)
Pahang vs Negeri Sembilan
Kedah vs Terengganu
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.