THE pressure on Terengganu FA president Datuk Che Mat Jusoh and coach Mat Zan Mat Aris has eased after a convincing 6-2 win over Song Lam Nghe An FC in an AFC Group F match in Kuala Terengganu on Wednesday.
The win, which took the hosts into the second round of the tournament, appeased some disgruntled supporters who were demonstrating outside the stadium during yesterday's match, demanding the resignation of Che Mat and Mat Zan.
By the time Pratap Singh, the referee from India, blew the half-time whistle, Terengganu were 4-1 up and that was enough encouragement for the demonstrating crowd to make their way into the stadium to cheer their team.
Mat Zan said the unhappy fans should have more faith in their team. "They should know that it is impossible for the team to win their every match especially after having to endure a packed schedule," said Mat Zan.
"Our job is made more difficult when key players are out injured. Also, we did not lose to Sime Darby or Tampines Rovers on purpose." Mat Zan said he did not expect to win big against the Vietnam champions, especially when goalkeeper Sarbinee Allawee, striker Manaf Mamat and midfielder Shukor Jusoh failed late fitness tests.
"But it was a good thing that our other players thrived under pressure and (Francis) Doe managed to score a hattrick while Ashaari (Shamsuddin), Hadi (Yahya) and Joseph (Kallang Tie) also scored. "I was a little worried for Ashaari when he had to limp off only after 30 minutes but I have been told his knee injury is not too bad. He should be back in action for the return leg against Sime Darby on Tuesday."
Meanwhile, Song Lam Nghe An coach Nguyen Huu Thang said his team deserved to be out of the AFC Cup after a dismal performance although he said the referee had made the job a lot easier for the hosts. "Terengganu were clearly the better team but our job was made a lot tougher when every decision seemed to go against us," said Huu Thang.
"Not only were we denied a couple of penalties but the referee did not seem to even know what a tackle-from-behind means." By Zainuddin Muhammad