It’s not all cut-and-dry for FA Cup defending champions Pahang.
The Elephants edged Kelantan 1-0 in the first leg of the semi-finals at the almost impregnable Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan on Saturday – courtesy of Argentine striker Matias Conti who netted the solitary goal in the second minute.
His strike partner, Nigerian Dickson Nwakaeme, provided the assist inside the box.
Super League leaders Pahang, who have only lost once in 12 matches – in all competitions – will travel to the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru for the return leg on Saturday.
National winger R. Gopinathan was the main culprit, missing two gilt-edged opportunities in front of goal in the 15th and 43rd minutes. Newcomer Mohd Nor Azam also failed to beat Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat in a one-on-one challenge in the 17th minute.
In the other semi-final match, Lions XII also take a slim one-goal advantage into the return leg after edging Terengganu 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
Goals by Khairul Nizam (30th minute) and Faris Ramli (34th) gave the Singaporeans a comfortable 2-0 lead before Argentine Gustavo Lopez reduced the deficit for the Turtles in the 39th minute.
Terengganu failed to clear a cross into the box and the ball fell nicely for Lions striker Khairul, who volleyed it home.
Four minutes later, midfielder Faris had the easiest task of tapping in the second goal from close range.
A stunning freekick by Lopez earned the Turtles a priceless away goal.
Terengganu came close to finding the equaliser as they hit the woodwork twice in a minute through Mohd Ashaari Shamsudin and Sharin Sapien (43rd minute).
The Turtles take their away goal lifeline to the return leg at the Sultan Ismail Stadium in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday.