2004 was the last time Perak emerged as champions of the Malaysia FA Cup when they beat Terengganu 3-0. That was 14 years after Perak won the inaugural FA Cup back in 1990 and now they have a chance to win it only for the third time in the 29-year history of the competition.
Kedah are standing in their way at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Saturday, a team who finished just above them in fourth spot in the recently concluded Malaysia Super League. In both the league matches, Kedah have held the upper hand, drawing once and winning the other.
For Perak's head coach, he is heartened by the manner in which his team reached the final, coming from 3-1 down to Pahang in the semi-final first leg to oust the defending champions with a 3-0 scoreline in the second leg. Midfielder Kenny Pallraj will be the only one unavailable due to suspension, giving Durakovic plenty of options for the final.
"I'm very happy with the team's performance in reaching the final. It was not easy especially in the semi-final against Pahang. We are one more step away. The expectations are high because Perak have not won the FA Cup for nearly 15 years, that's a long time to wait. I'm happy with our preparations even though the last couple of days rain has disrupted our training. But my players are fit and ready to go.
"We got Kenny Pallraj suspended and a couple of injuries. We'll see after tonight's training how everyone else is and hopefully they will be okay for tomorrow night's game. El Dor is doing he's recovery, he trained with us last night, whoever is fit will play," said Durakovic in Friday's pre-match press conference.
The final tomorrow will also be a battle between two head coaches who have been spending a lot of time with each other, given that they are both pursuing their Pro Diploma coaching certificate in the same class. They know each other inside out and performances this season from both teams indicates there isn't much to separate them.
Durakovic also played down the influence of Renan Alves' suspension in the final, having got himself sent off in the last Super League match against Felda United last week. The former FA Cup winner as a player with Selangor back in 1997, the 53-year-old is adamant that it will be an open game on Saturday.
"It's sad because as a coach you want all your players to play. To get sent off right before the final for a player is not easy but it is what it is. They have other players who could do the job and their coach knows what to do. So for me it's not an advantage or disadvantage.
"It's going to be a fantastic final with a sold-out stadium. It's two good teams with good players and two coaches who are very good friends. It's not going to be easy, Kedah are a very good side. We are getting there and we should see a very good game between the two teams," he added.
Probable Perak XI: Hafizul Hakim, Amirul Azhan, Hussein El Dor, Shahrul Saad, Nazirul Naim, Leandro dos Santos, Brendan Gan, J. Partiban, Nor Hakim Hassan, Raianderson da Costa Morais, Ronaldo Henrique Silva
Follow Goal Malaysia on Instagram
A post shared by Goal Malaysia (@goal_malaysia) on Jul 25, 2019 at 1:16am PDT