Defending champions Perak rolled over Terengganu 4-2 to advance into Saturday’s semi-finals of the TNB 53rdTun Abdul Razak Cup Division One tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Joining the silver state in the last four from Group A is Malacca, who, as expected, had a relatively easy time overpowering Penang to record victory by 6-3.
Kuala Lumpur, the 19-time Razak Cup champions, and Johor qualified for the semi-finalsfrom Group B. Johor eased past Negeri Sembilan 3-2 to make the grade.
Dharmaraj’s Kuala Lumpur, dubbed the come-back kings, lived up to the tagline as they clawed back from 3-2 down in the third quarter, drew level by the fourth, and then sent Pahang crashing out with a 4-3 win, thanks to a Mohamed Aslam Mohamed’s 57th minute field goal.
In Saturday’s semi-finals, Perak go into showdown with Kuala Lumpur and Johor meet high-rising Malacca, dubbed ‘The Hurricanes’.
Perak maintained an unbeaten streak of three wins to collect nine points and lead Group A while Malacca came in second with six points followed by Terengganu third (3 points) and Penang last.
“I am very satisfied with the performance of my players. As you can see Terengganu have Faizal, FitriSaari and Muhammad Firhan who are national senior team players. We played very well to contain them and now look towards the semi-finals,” said Perak coach, K. Yogeswaran.
Mohammed FitriAbdul Aziz created the early opportunity for Perak with a 10th minute penalty corner goal and by the third quarter Perak were 3-0 ahead, courtesy of strikes from AzrilMisron (20th, FG), the younger brother of Perak defender and former national captainAzlan, and Mohamed AshranHamsani (27th, FG).
Terengganu, marshalled by national senior team forward FaizalSaariwere pegged in defence for most of the first and second quarters as Perak consistently mounted pressure but only for the heroics acts of goalkeeper HafizuddinOthmanwhich kept the score down.
Perak went on a quick counter-attack a minute after the interval which Mohamed Shukri Abdul Mutalib duly converted from close range to go 4-0 up. The east coast state replied through Faizal (40th, PC) and NikAimanNikRozami (45th, FG).
KL opened scoring through Mohd ZulhairiHashim from a penalty corner (4th) but Pahang’s Ismail Abu equalised (21st, FG) to take the game to the wire. KL, however, went 2-1 up through Nor HizzatSumantri (24th, FG) but Pahang rolled back to level score at 2-2 through Ismail (38th, FG) before going ahead 3-2 from a Hafiz Zainul field goal.
The pressure-cooker like drama kept fans on their toes but it was KL who equalised this time through ShahrilSaabah (54th, PC) until Mohamed Aslam struck the winning goal much to the delight of KL fans.
In tomorrow’s 5-8th classification matches, Terengganu takes on Negeri Sembilan and Penang meets Pahang.
RESULTS – Division 1A: Malacca 6 Penang 3; Perak 4 Terengganu 2.
Division 1B:Kuala Lumpur 4 Pahang 3; Johor 3 Negeri Sembilan 2.
TOMORROW –Division One 5-8th Classification matches: Terengganu v Negeri Sembilan (Pitch 1, 6.0pm); Penang v Pahang (Pitch 2, 6.0pm).
Division 2: Kedah v Sarawak (Pitch 1, 7.30am); Perlis v Armed Forces (Pitch 2, 7.30am); Kelantan v Selangor (9.30am).