Kedah, Pahang take slim leads in first-leg Malaysia FA Cup semifinals
Farhan Roslan gave Kedah a slim advantage in their FA Cup semifinal against 10-man Terengganu, with his second-half goal proving the difference between the sides in the first-leg clash on Sunday.
Pahang also hold a 1-0 lead against Negeri Sembilan after a late own goal from Annas Rahmat gave them a first-leg victory in Kuantan.
Kedah were playing their first game without coach Tan Cheng Hoe, who officially left the club on Sunday to join the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
Interim coach Nidzam Adzha was without the rampaging full-back Rizal Ghazali for the first leg at a rainy Darul Aman Stadium, with his place taken by Halim Saari.
Second-tier Terengganu started brightly, and had their first shot on target after five minutes.
A nice move down the right saw Faiz Nasir lay off a deft pass for Issey Nakajima-Farran.
The Canadian striker looked likely to give the visitors a shock early lead, but Kedah goalkeeper Ifwat Ikmal did well to charge down his close-range shot.
The momentum, however, swung in Kedah's favour from then on.
Ken Ilso had a looping header saved in the 10th minute, before he was denied by a superb save from Amierul Hakimi five minutes later.
The young Amierul was again called to action midway through the first half, producing a sprawling stop to palm away Sandro's drive from outside the penalty box.
Terengganu were leading a charmed life, as Syazwan Zainon's costly miss from four yards out kept the score goalless going into half-time.
The Turtles should have scored right after the restart, but Issey could only poke wide after being played through by Faiz.
The goalmouth action was coming in thick and fast, and Liridon Krasniqi was the next culpable party after scuffing a shot high and wide from Fitri Omar's delicious cross.
The Kosovar playmaker then made amends with a perfect delivery for Ilso, but the Dane also fired off target.
Kedah continued to put their opponents under the gun, as Baddrol Bakhtiar and Fitri both had shots comfortably saved by Amierul.
The young Terengganu custodian was proving a standout figure, as he produced another flying stop to deny Ilso, who cut an increasingly exasperated figure.
A heavy downpour descended at the Darul Aman Stadium on 70 minutes, and it proved a heavenly omen as Kedah took a deserved lead just a minute later.
It came from substitute Farhan Roslan, who had been on the pitch just moments before it started pouring. The winger did not seize the opportunity when Ilso's cutback found him unmarked, and lashed home past Amierul.
Terengganu were dealt a further blow after Adib Aizudin was given his marching orders for a foul on Farhan as Kedah aimed to bury this game with another goal.
Farhan came close again, but saw his shot hacked off the line by Lazaro Vinicius, as Terengganu hung on to return home trailing by only a goal.
The second legs of the semifinal will be played on May 13, with the final at Shah Alam Stadium on May 20.
Kedah: Fitri Omar, Zachary Anderson, Liridon Krasniqi, Ken Ilso, Sandro Da Silva (Farhan Roslan 68'), Akram Mahinan, Khairul Helmi (C), Halim Saari (Syawal Noordin 24'0029, Syazwan Zainon, Ifwat Akmal (GK), Baddrol Bakhtiar (C)
Terengganu: Lazaro Vinicius, Adbul Shukor Jusoh, Ferris Danial, Issey Nakajima-Farran (C), Faiz Nasir, Nasrullah Hanif, Firdaus Faudzi, Matias Falcone, Adib Aizuddin, Amierul Hakimi (GK), Sharin Sapien
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.