KUALA LUMPUR: KL City coach Bojan Hodak is the man with the Midas touch.
The Croatian's tactics and pep talk inspired his KL players as they reached the FA Cup final on Sunday.
The City Boys edged Terengganu 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in regulation time in the semi-finals at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.
KL were patient but sometimes boring. However, it proved to be their trump card against the Turtles, who had more than 20,000 fans in the stadium.
It will be KL's third final in three seasons under Hodak after winning the 2021 Malaysia Cup and finishing runners-up in the AFC Cup last year.
And Hodak wants relevant parties to start respecting and taking KL seriously for their efforts.
Hodak is known in Malaysia as a title-winning coach. He led his previous clubs, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) and Kelantan, to numerous titles, and he is doing it with KL now.
In the penalty shootout on Sunday, KL goalkeeper Azim Al Amin Kamaruddin emerged as their hero by stopping attempts from Terengganu's Nik Sharif Haseefy and Liridon Krasniqi.The team will face defending champions JDT or Selangor in the final.
KL are not a team with a big budget, but thanks to Hodak, they are now among the best in the M-League. Many do not take KL seriously. They even do not have a training ground and a stadium to call home.
"You know what is interesting? KL did not achieve anything for 30 years (before I came). They were in the bottom of the first and second divisions," said Hodak after the match.
"And like before, the club neither have a training ground nor a stadium. And we have a shoestring budget.
"Despite the shortcomings, KL are in the final for the third consecutive season.
"I don't know, maybe it is a sign we are on the verge of becoming a top club or closing down soon.
"This is KL's moment, so it will be interesting if somebody (relevant party) wakes up and supports the club. Otherwise, shut it down.
"Our chief executive officer Stanley Bernard has been running around to secure a budget and sponsors. Thankfully, the players are patient because sometimes salaries are late.
"Sometimes, we do not have a field to train on, yet we are in a final again."
Timesport has reached out to KL for comment on this matter.
Hodak attributes KL's success to his players' strong character and desire to succeed.
"We knew Terengganu would be tough. Both teams did not risk too much and penalties decided the outcome of the semi-final.
"We always win when a game goes to penalties. We hope to continue our dream," Hodak added.
Meanwhile, Tomislav Steinbruckner was unhappy with the attitude of his players.
"Many players refused to take the penalties.
"I asked Jordan Mintah, Faiz Nasir and Hakimi Abdullah, but they did not want to take penalties.
"The stadium was full, and I think they were under some pressure.
"However, I am baffled by their attitude. We lost and the blame always goes to the coach," said Steinbruckner.