Ken Ilso dedicates Malaysia FA Cup final to Kedah biker fans
Kedah striker Ken Ilso dedicated his team's route to the Malaysia FA Cup final to the team's loyal fans after a 3-0 victory on Saturday night on a bumpy Kuala Terengganu pitch, described by the Danish import as a "catastrophe".
The 4-0 win on aggregate means over second-tier Terengganu that Kedah will face Pahang in Saturday's showcase match at Shah Alam Stadium. Pahang swept aside Negeri Sembilan 3-1 on aggregate after a 2-1 win in Paroi.
"A lot of fans travelled all the way from Alor Setar to Terengganu on motorbike ... that's 12 to 14 hours," Ilso told ESPN FC.
"It was a pleasure that we could give those fans a victory and also a pretty sure one. We scored a quick goal, which was very decisive for the game, meaning they had to score three times.
"The field was a catastrophe. It was really difficult to play the game we like to play, but after the first few minutes when they started out with a lot of long balls, we showed calmness at the back."
Ilso doubled Kedah's lead just before the half-hour after Liridon Krasniqi had put the visitors ahead after four minutes.
"My goal, the second one, closed out the match, which was good," he said. "Terenggannu never got dangerous in front of our goal after that, so it was important to keep the zero."
Meanwhile, Pahang captain Matthew Davies hailed the transformation of his side after negotiating a difficult 90 minutes against second-division high flyers Negeri in Paroi.
"We have a very different squad from last year, and have done really well to reach the final," Davies said.
"Hopefully, we can continue to maintain that same success, and do well again in the final next week."
Pahang took an early lead through South Korea's Heo Jae-won, but were pegged back through a Bruno Suzuki header in the second half.
The Elephants were put under intense pressure in the final 20 minutes, and only sealed the deal when substitute Christie Jayaseelan struck in injury time to confirm victory.
"We didn't play as well as we would have liked, but we came to get a result and we did. They got a goal back which put us under some pressure, but we held out to get the win," added the Pahang full-back, who had endured a tumultuous campaign in 2016.
Pahang were struggling in the lower half of the league under Razip Ismail after losing the core of their squad from 2015, and ended the campaign in ninth place.
But this year, under the guidance of ex-national boss Dollah Salleh who returned to his old team, Pahang have been a different proposition in all competitions.
They are tied second with Kedah on the Malaysia Super League table, six points behind leaders Johor Darul Ta'zim.
Ahmad Syamim Yahya, who set up Heo's opener, knows the road is still treacherous before Pahang can claim their first silverware in three years.
"Kedah won''t be an easy team at all, they have one of the strongest squads in the country. But we will follow the coach's tactics accordingly, and repair our deficiencies from the semifinal," he said.
Kedah are the reigning Malaysia Cup champions, having avenged their 2015 final defeat to Selangor in 2016.
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