After making a big splash in the transfer window prior to the start of the 2019 season, the FA Cup would have been one of Melaka's top priority this year but Zainal Abidin Hassan's side failed to even clear the first hurdle. A 3-2 reverse to PKNS FC in the second round ended their dreams of going deep in the competition.
Without the Darko Markovic and Liridon Krasniqi in the side, Melaka looked sub-par for best part of the game and subsequently found themselves 3-0 behind after 70 minutes played. Only a late charge made the scoreline look closer than what it really should be.
The result meant that Melaka has now only won once in their last six matches in all competitions including the Super League. It was a performance that riled Zainal, the manner in which his team failed to rise to the occasion until the tie was all but dead.
"I can say that all three goals were due to our mistakes. We controlled the game in the second half but just wasn't potent enough in the attack. We did not take the chances we had until we made two unnecessary mistakes in five mistakes. The question is why only show the urgency after being 3-0 down.
"While I praise the boys for fighting back but it was too late and it's a waste. It's an opportunity for the boys to be more professional and discipline," said an angry Zainal in the post-match press conference.
As for The Red Ants, the result meant that they were able to exact some form of revenge on Melaka who had won at Shah Alam Stadium in the Super League but it also keep up with their yo-yo performance this season. Thus far, PKNS have not been able to win two consecutive matches and this latest win came off the back of a disappointing defeat to PJ City FC at the weekend.
Goals from K. Gurusamy, Chan Vathanaka and Kpah Sherman gave PKNS a commanding lead with only 20 minutes left on the clock but the manner in which they put themselves into a difficult position at the tail-end of the match would have been a big worry for them and K. Rajagopal shared the same mixed emotion over how the game transpired.
"I was happy with the three goals but we should have controlled the game after that. It's not easy to play in that condition and it was disappointing to concede the two goals. When they scored the penalty, I thought okay we only have a few minutes left but we then we go and concede the second, which gave Melaka more confidence.
"But overall there are times that we played well. It's good to get a win that is important for the confidence of the players but there's much more work to be done," explained Rajagopal.
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