Hadin Azman hopes to help Felda United knock out cup kings Kedah
Midfielder Hadin Azman believes his Felda United side have enough firepower within their ranks to pull off an upset in the Malaysia Cup semifinals as they take a 1-1 scoreline to the second leg away to Kedah this weekend.
Hadin's 88th-minute equaliser salvaged a draw in Sunday night's first leg after Felda had trailed the defending champions in Jengka.
He ghosted in at the back post to head past Ifwat Akmal to boost his team's chances of a first-ever Malaysia Cup final appearance.
Hadin believes that result, coupled with Felda's recent run, will set the tone for victory in the return leg.
"We have to score to advance, at least one goal and a tight defence will do the trick. Added with our team's confidence, I believe we can make the final," Hadin told ESPN FC.
"The 1-1 draw was a good result for us, as we needed something to take to Kedah. We played to instructions, and it paid off in the end."
The playmaker knows how big the upcoming 90 minutes will be, in front of a boisterous crowd at Alor Setra.
Kedah met Felda in the 2015 semifinals, with the score nicely poised at 2-2 ahead of the return leg. But the northern side, under the guidance of Tan Cheng Hoe prevailed 2-1 to make the final against Selangor, which they lost 2-0 at Shah Alam Stadium.
Hadin has experienced many challenges since then. He had been in and out of the team, due to various injuries to his back, right knee and right ankle.
His latest ankle complaint kept him on the sidelines for almost two months, and he is eager to make up for lost time and re-establish his role as a mainstay in the team.
"My performance is still not up to par just yet. I'm always coming off the bench, and it's been tough getting back to full fitness. I just need more game time, and I am happy that coach is giving me that," Hadin said.
He also attributed the team's strong run, which includes six wins in the last 10 matches, to coach B. Satiananthan's astute tactics.
The former national boss took charge of the team shortly after interim Azmi Mohamed resigned in February.
While Satia couldn't do much about Felda's poor AFC Cup run which ended in the group stage, his stern and constructive approach eventually rubbed off.
Felda are third above Kedah, and are now, bidding to book a spot in what would be a maiden Malaysia Cup final.
"Coach Satia has been solid since he took charge of the team. His tactical approach for every game is different, and we are confident the one on Saturday would work again," Hadin said.
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.