German-born Frank Bernhardt is not a bad coach by any means.
The 51-year-old has now emerged as one of the most outstanding coaches in the M-League with UiTM FC, three years after he was sacked as the national Under-22 coach by the FA of Malaysia (FAM).
Bernhardt was hired by the national body in 2015 to prepare the national youth team for the 2017 Kuala Lumpur Sea Games, only to be fired a few months before the tournament.
Undeterred , the former Estonia Under-21 coach returned to the M-League as UiTM coach this year to prove his coaching credentials.
Under Bernhardt, UiTM have turned out to be one of the most exciting teams in the M-League.
The team finished a respectable sixth in the Super League and on Sunday, the university side created history by reaching the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals for the first time by edging Premier League side Kelantan 3-2 at the Manjung Stadium.
Arif Anwar was UiTM’s toast with a brace in the 12th and 67th minutes while Rafie Mat Yaacob (15th) netted the other goal for the club. Kelantan replied through Danial Ashraf Abdullah’s brace in the 61st and 63rd minutes.
Bernhardt’s side will now fancy their chances of reaching the semi-finals when they face newly-crowned Premier League champions Penang.
“We are definitely delighted to reach the quarter-finals. It was a difficult game against Kelantan. Special mention to Arif for his wonderful second goal that earned us victory today,” said Bernhardt on Sunday.
“Our next match is against Penang. I think it will be another difficult game. It is tricky preparing for matches as we can only train in small groups (due to Covid-19 restrictions). However, we will manage and do our best.”
Kelantan coach Yusri Che Lah believes his men were heroes, despite the defeat.
“Although we lost, I am still happy as my players gave their 100 per cent, despite trailing by two goals before the breather. I believe there is hope for Kelantan football,” he said.
In another match, Selangor edged Melaka 2-1 at the Hang Jebat Stadium to set a quarter-final date against Kedah.
Ifedayo Omosuyi (21st) and Sandro Mendonca (52nd) netted for Selangor while Melaka replied through Uche Agba (56th).
Selangor caretaker Michael Feichtenbeiner said the wet pitch made it difficult for his team to play their normal game.
“However, I am happy that we won. The wet pitch made it tough for us. I told my players to be brave up and adapt to the field condition.
“Melaka were dangerous on the set-pieces, but we managed to contain them.
Melaka coach Zainal Abidin Hassan said his players fought hard until the final whistle and were unlucky to lose.