Monday, 12 March 2012

SPA stuns Cambodian club Preah Khan Reach to progress in FA Cup

Public Service Commission’s (SPA) dream FA Cup run continued when they edged Cambodia’s Preah Khan Reach (PKR) 1-0 on Saturday to become the first FAM League side to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition.

SPA, an amateur team, turned the tables on PKR, who fielded six Cambodian internationals, with their never-say-die attitude and their persistence paid off in the 52nd minute.

Zulkifli Affendi Zakri picked up a weak clearance in the penalty box before placing the ball past PKR goalkeeper Sar Saphea to record their biggest win and earn a two-leg quarter-final tie (March 24 and 27) against reigning Super League champions Kelantan.

SPA’s victory over PKR is their second over a professional side this season. In the first round, SPA thrashed Premier League side Johor Baru City Council 3-0.

It’s a feat that as far as coach Mohd Nidzam Jamil is concerned almost amounted to being “a miracle”.

“We’re all incredibly delighted especially to continue in the competition and at the same time create history,” said Nidzam after the match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

“We want to enjoy this (win) before thinking about Kelantan. What makes this so special is that we hold daily jobs and only train after work.

“Our priority, however, is to earn Premier League promotion and not the FA Cup but doing well in it is a bonus and added motivation.”

Nidzam said the hard work and hours of training is the secret behind the club’s Cup run so far.

“PKR are professionals and of course physically and technically they’re much better than us. What made the difference for us was simple motivation.

 “My players showed character and their willingness to fight for 90 minutes paid dividends.

“Some of my players even suffered cramps in the final minutes of the match but I expected that to happen as we are an amateur side,” said Nidzam.

Former M-League players Nuraizat Abdul Aziz, Zulkifli Affendi, Sazali Suwandi and Noor Azizi Azman form the core of the SPA side comprising mostly former state President’s Cup players.

They have been competing in the FAM League since 2010.

On the match against Kelantan, Nidzam said: “It will be my team’s biggest match of the season.

They are like ‘Chelsea’ of Malaysian football and we need to be prepared to face them.

“We just want to enjoy our football and, hopefully, my regulars will be fit for this tie,” he added.

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