Pahang have the advantage of an away goal in their Malaysia FA Cup semi-final tie with Johor Darul Ta’zim after both sides played out a 1-1 draw in Monday’s first leg.
It was Harimau Selatan who took the lead at the Larkin Stadium after 13 minutes following a cleverly-worked set-piece routine which saw Safiq Rahim roll the ball into the path of Luciano Figueroa when everyone was expecting a high cross, allowing the ex-Argentina international to clinically fire into the bottom corner.
But eight minutes before the break, Pahang equalised after Damion Stewart refused to give up on what appeared to be a lost cause and raced to the byline to head Azidan Sairudin’s freekick back to the far post; Matias Conti reacting quickest to nod past Izham Tarmizi from two yards out.
Having conceded a potentially-costly away goal, Darul Ta’zim looked to reclaim the lead immediately after the break and did create a number of good opportunities.
However, Figueroa could only scoop his shot over in the 47th minute after being played in by Nazrin Nawi, before the latter was denied by opposition defender Saifulnizam Miswan after good work in the build-up by Norshahrul Idlan Talaha.
And Tok Gajah nearly went on to claim the win two minutes after the hour mark when R. Gopinathan did well to create space for himself but fired inches wide, as both sides ultimately had to settle for a draw.
The two teams meet again on May 20 in the second leg at the Darulmakmur Stadium with a place in the final up for grabs, where either will meet the victor of the other last-four tie between Kelantan and FELDA United.
Johor Darul Ta’zim: Izham Tarmizi, Mahalli Jasuli, Fadhli Shas, Marcos Antonio (Aidil Zafuan 82’), Asraruddin Putra Omar, Hariss Harun, Nazrin Nawi (Jorge Pereya 82’), Safiq Rahim (Irfan Fazail 73’), Amri Yahyah, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Luciano Figueroa.
Pahang: Khairul Azhan Khalid, Razman Roslan, Saifulnizam Miswan, Damion Stewart, Shahrizan Salleh, R. Surendran (Azamuddin Akil 74’), Hafiz Kamal, Azidan Sairudin, R. Gopinathan (Fauzi Roslan 90’), Matias Conti (Zesh Rehman 83’), Dickson Nwakaeme.