Felda have 'psychological edge' vs. Kedah in Malaysia Cup - Djulbic
Felda United will have the mental edge over defending champions Kedah when the two sides clash in the semifinals of the Malaysia Cup, according to Felda's Australian import, Dino Djulbic.
The first leg will be held on Sunday at Felda's Jengka Stadium, with the second leg in Alor Setar on Oct. 21.
The Fighters stunned Kedah 3-1 at their home ground in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) on Sept. 20, which could impact their meeting in the Malaysia Cup.
"They're tough opposition, but I think we have a bit of a psychological advantage, seeing that we've beaten them a few weeks ago in the league," former Australia international Djulbic told ESPN FC.
"We want to take the same momentum into the Malaysia Cup and, hopefully, we can get over the line and finish them off."
His partnership with former national skipper Shukor Adan in the heart of defence has helped Felda turn a slow start to the season into a strong finish.
Djulbic, 34, joined the club in the mid-season transfer window, and helped lift Felda to an impressive third on the table, and then saw them overturn a two-goal deficit in the quarterfinals to progress to the last four of the Malaysia Cup.
"Shukor's experience... you just can't buy it. He helps me, we talk to each other, he helps the other players around. He's the captain, and he leads by example," Djulbic said.
"Even though he's 38, he looks after himself and trains hard every morning. He's a true professional.
"The target when we first came into the club was to finish in the top four and I think making the [Malaysia Cup] final.
"We are third at the moment, and I don't think we can go below that. The next thing is just making the final and hopefully winning it, as well."
Djulbic, a former standout defender from the A-League, singled out Kedah's impressive attackers Liridon Krasniqi, Sandro da Silva and Ken Ilso as players to watch. Ex-Bundesliga forward Ilso has scored an impressive 15 league goals this season, and helped Kedah win the 2017 Malaysia FA Cup after their triumph in the 2016 Malaysia Cup.
"Ilso's a good player and we've got to be careful about their whole midfield," Djulbic said.
"They've got some good foreigners and some good local players, and obviously Ken has scored so many goals. Will try to keep him as quiet as possible."
Having signed a short-term contract for 2017, Djulbic is keen to stay with Felda for the 2018 season. His wife Bonnie and young children Esad and Charlie have settled well near Felda's training base in Putrajaya, and he's embraced the local cuisine.
"I love it here. The food is amazing... I love the spicy food. The locals look at me strangely because I put so much chill on my food." he said.
"Football-wise, I've been enjoying it so far... it's been good, and to win the Malaysia Cup would be great.
"It's up to the club at the end of the day, but I'm happy to stay. Hopefully, we can come to an agreement at the end of the year."
Jason Dasey is ESPN FC Senior Editor in Singapore. Formerly Asian editor of FourFourTwo, he was also a CNN and BBC broadcaster. Twitter: @JasonDasey.