Singapore Football

We'll hurt the LionsXII again: Pahang strikers

They have taken turns to torment the LionsXII defence, and will be expected to do so again in front of more than 30,000 home fans in the first leg of their Malaysia Cup quarter-final clash at the Darulmakmur Stadium tonight.

"No problem," Pahang striker Dickson Nwakaeme said cheerily, ahead of their training session at the Taman Gelora ground yesterday.

Backed by speedy wingers Azamuddin Akil and R Gopinathan, the 29-year-old Nigerian has been in fine form and, along with Argentinian Matias Conti, the duo have combined for more than 30 goals (16 each) for the second season running with Pahang.

Against the LionsXII, Conti scored in both Malaysian Super League encounters this year - Pahang won 3-2 at home and lost 4-2 at Jalan Besar - while Nwakaeme netted in both Malaysia Cup meetings last year, when both teams traded 2-1 away wins in the group stage.

Nwakaeme turned more serious when asked about what drives him.

LAST CHANCE

The muscular forward said: "This is our last chance to win a trophy this season.

"We lost the Malaysian Super League (MSL) to Johor Darul Ta'zim by just two points and we were careless when we lost the FA Cup semi-final to Kelantan through a stoppage-time goal.

"We badly want to retain the Malaysia Cup and make it three in a row."

Flashing his pearly whites again, he pointed to Conti and said: "He outscored me by two last season (17-15). We are both on 16 goals now and I want to beat him for once."

Conti, 25, laughed and responded: "It's a good competition but if I continue scoring, he won't be able to 
catch up."

While the Elephants' strikers have struck regularly against the LionsXII, defender Madhu Mohana believes they have figured out Pahang's foreign gunslingers.

The 24-year-old said: "Conti makes good runs off the ball and we need to communicate well and be aware of where he is.

"Dickson is very physical and also technically strong, so we have to double- or even triple-team him and not give him time on the ball.

"They are top strikers in the MSL and we will have to bring our 'A' game to stop them."

While acknowledging the two strikers' prowess, Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan is also keen to credit the rest of the team.

He said: "If they are on form, we will do well. But they can score so many goals only because their teammates work hard to provide the chances.

"The LionsXII are a good side who have also played together for many years, so we have to play our best to take a good result to Singapore for the second leg 
on Saturday."

malaysia cuppahanglionsxii