BACK-TO-BACK defeats in the Premier League is hardly the form Sime Darby had hoped to take into their historic FA Cup final tomorrow, not when the opposition is Kelantan.
Sime Darby have been given little hope of lifting the trophy at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil despite having accounted for three Super League sides -- Sabah, Johor FC and Terengganu -- in their amazing run.
They had been unbeaten since January until conceding three goals in the last 10 minutes in a 3-2 defeat to Pahang last Friday, which was followed by a 2-1 reverse against Armed Forces on Monday.
Sime Darby, who became the first club side to make the FA Cup final, barely mustered a threat against Forces -- their only goal coming from a penalty -- and the players looked to be saving themselves for tomorrow. But coach Ismail Zakaria brushed off suggestions that they took their foot off the pedal although he admitted the two defeats were a setback to their promotion hopes.
"They were two tough games against Pahang and Forces. The FA Cup final will be even more difficult. We had our chances but just could not convert.
"It is not a case of taking it easy before the final. The players were committed but we were missing a few players," said Ismail.
Patrick Wleh, Sime Darby's top scorer with 19 goals in all competitions, missed the match against Forces through suspension while Irme Mat and regular goalkeeper Redzuan Harun were rested.
"Without Patrick, our attack looked toothless. We tried out other players like Mohd Nor (Ismail) who has not played for a while because of injury.
"All had a chance to stake a claim for a place in the final. The final is going to be a totally different atmosphere and with Patrick back, I have an idea of the team I'm going to field," added Ismail. By Devinder Singh