We won't park the bus, says Pahang's coach Zainal
They head into tonight's Malaysia Cup quarter-final second leg clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium with a commanding lead over the LionsXII, and Pahang insist they are not about to take the foot off the pedal.
The Elephants have one foot in the semi-finals, after claiming an emphatic 4-1 first-leg win over the LionsXII at Darulmakmur Stadium on Tuesday.
But, speaking to The New Paper before yesterday's training session at Serangoon Stadium, Pahang coach Zainal Abidin (above) said: "It's a good lead to have but I wouldn't say we're safe.
"Anything can happen and I want my players to forget about the 4-1 victory and treat this as a completely new game.
"We're not going to be playing defensively or think about parking the bus, the only difference is that we'll improve our attitude when defending."
Zainal does have good reason to be cautious, especially after watching his defence concede 11 goals in six group games at the opening stage of the competition.
One man who will be determined to keep the LionsXII at bay tonight is left-back Matthew Davies, who has established himself as an important player for the team since joining from Perth Glory.
Pahang's last visit to Jalan Besar in August ended in a 4-2 defeat, and Davies believes there will be extra motivation from the hosts to make a statement following the recent shock announcement that they will not play in the Malaysian Super League from next year.
"They're going to put up a fight and obviously our main focus is to avoid complacency," said the Malaysian international.
"We also know how it's always difficult to come to Singapore and play on Jalan Besar's artificial pitch.
"We're here to get a decent result and cement our spot in the semi-finals.
"I think they (LionsXII) definitely have a point to prove that they've been competitive for his league and they'll want to put on a good show.
"We don't want to focus too much on defending because it's not our natural style… We'll come out to attack but, at the same time, be wary of conceding.
"If we can get an away goal, that would really cement our control of the tie."
Davies' sentiments were echoed by Zainal, although the legendary former Malaysian striker believes the prize of a semi-final berth will be enough to see his charges rise to the challenge.
"Of course, we know the LionsXII are going to try their hardest and maybe they'll be out to prove a point," added Zainal.
"For some of them who may be desperate to win the Malaysia Cup, tomorrow could be their last chance.
"We must be prepared for any scenario but the players know we have put ourselves in a good position, and that they must not let this slip from us."