FELDA United produced a real statement of intent on Friday after beating Selangor 4-0 in the first leg of their Malaysia Cup quarter-final at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Given FELDA are currently coached by ex-Red Giants boss Irfan Bakti, and had seven former players in their ranks including Shukor Adan, Indra Putra Mahayudin and Raimi Nor, there was never going to be any lack of spice heading into the clash.
And it was the visitors who took the lead in the 22nd minute when Ndumba Makeche opened the scoring, before Edward Junior Wilson doubled their advantage on the stroke of halftime.
Makeche then struck again in the 84th minute to effectively end the contest, before completing his hat-trick two minutes later to cap off an outstanding display from his side.
Although there is still a second leg to be played, FELDA are almost certainly through to the last four and Selangor will need to pull off a minor miracle if they are to keep alive their hopes of winning a 33rd title.
Meanwhile, defending champions Pahang overcame the setback of having goalkeeper Nasril Nourdin sent off to force a 1-1 draw against PDRM at the Darulmakmur Stadium.
Although it was the hosts who got off to a brighter start, they were unable to find the breakthrough as opposition keeper Azizon Abdul Kadir did brilliantly to deny R. Gopinathan and Azamuddin Akil with a couple of point-blank range saves.
Things then turned sour for Tok Gajah five minutes before the break when Nasril was shown a straight red for bringing down Ali Ashfaq in a one-on-one situation, after the Maldives captain had cleverly turned Damion Stewart and raced through on goal.
However, all Nasril’s sacrifice did was to delay the inevitable as from the resultant freekick, Charles Souza Chad unleashed a ferocious effort that Khairul Azhan Khalid could only parry to Fauzi Abdul Majid, who made no mistake in smashing home the rebound.
But despite the numerical deficit, Pahang were able to force the draw courtesy of a fine individual effort from Dickson Nwakaeme in the 57th minute; the Nigerian forcing his way past three defenders outside the box before rifling his shot into the back of the net to deny the visitors the win.
Over at the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium, Kelantan were too good for Kedah as they cruised to a 3-1 victory.
The Red Warriors edged ahead after just seven minutes when Badhri Radzi’s in-swinging corner sailed over Saiful Amar Sudar, with Francis Forkey Doe making sure of the goal by nodding the ball in on the goal-line.
Forkey Doe struck again in the 24th minute from another set-piece when he forced the ball home from two yards out, after Brendan Gan had headed a Fitri Omar corner into his path.
A minute after the hour mark, Kelantan all but sealed the win when they made it 3-0 as Ahmad Fakri Saarani made a terrific delivery from Badhri with a diving header into the bottom corner.
Nonetheless, Kedah ensured there will still be something to play for in the second leg as they pulled one back in the 72nd minute; Syafiq Ahmad pouncing on a loose ball just inside the box and unleashing a volley that was too hot for Khairul Fahmi to keep out.
Finally, reigning Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim were held to a 0-0 draw by Terengganu at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium.
Friday’s Malaysia Cup Quarter-final First Leg Results
Kelantan 3-1 Kedah
Pahang 1-1 PDRM
Selangor 0-4 FELDA United
Terengganu 0-0 Johor Darul Ta’zim