Ken Ilso aims for third time lucky for Kedah in Malaysia FA Cup final
SHAH ALAM -- Former Denmark under-21 striker Ken Ilso hopes that the 2017 Malaysia FA Cup will provide the missing piece in his career puzzle -- a Cup final victory.
The ex-S.League star Ilso, who will lead the line for Kedah against Pahang in front of 80,000 fans at Shah Alam Stadium, has lost two previous Cup finals in Denmark and Singapore.
Playing for FC Midtjylland, Ilso tasted defeat in the 2010 Denmark Cup final, with his side going down 2-0 after extra time against FC Nordsjælland. And he was also on the losing side in the 2015 Singapore Cup final when his Home United side were defeated 2-1 by Albirex Niigata (S).
"So far I have been in two Cup finals, and I came away with a silver medal both times -- and I don't collect silver medals," Ilso told ESPN FC.
"So I'm looking forward to the final, and I hope for me that it's going to be third time lucky. It's going to be amazing."
30-year-old Ilso, whose impressive resume includes the 2012-13 season with Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga, has been a fast success with Kedah since joining the 2016 Malaysia Cup champions at the start of the season.
He's netted 11 goals in 16 matches in all competitions, and was on the scoresheet in last weekend's semifinal, second leg, as Kedah won 4-0 on aggregate over second-tier Terengganu.
He says he has the utmost respect for Dollah Salleh's Pahang, who advanced to the showcase match after comfortably prevailing 3-1 over Negeri Sembilan in their semifinal.
"We've played against Pahang before this season and they're a good team," Ilso said. "I think the fans are going to see two teams who like to have the ball and play an attacking style of football so I am foreseeing a very interesting Cup final.
"This Cup final is going to be its own game [unlike a league fixture]. There's going to be a lot of tension, and probably a lot of duels in the game."
Tied on 21 points on the Malaysia Super League (MSL) table, second-placed Pahang lead Kedah on goal difference.
On Feb. 11, Kedah beat Pahang 4-1 in the MSL in Alor Setar, with Ilso scoring two of the goals.
While he's never won a major Cup final, Ilso has previously tasted success at Shah Alam Stadium as part of the Singapore Selection who defeated Selangor on penalties in the 2016 Sultan of Selangor's Cup last May.
Jason Dasey is ESPN FC Senior Editor in Singapore. An ex-World Cup & EPL host, he has also been a CNN and BBC broadcaster. Twitter: @JasonDasey.