A confident 2-0 win at home over visiting SMK Tabuan Jaya of Sarawak has improved SMK Za’ba’s chances of making the cut for the quarter-finals of the Minister of Education League Cup (MELC) Under-14 this year.
Playing in the upper division of the Super League of the MELC, the side from Negeri Sembilan made sure of a fight to the finish to make the next round when their full points in mid-week pushed them from fifth to third in the eight-team standings.
“We needed to win today. Actually, we were quite desperate for the full points. The draw against Kedah (SMK Tunku Anum) last Saturday was a little disappointing but at least we managed to pick up the full points against Sarawak,” said SMK Za’ba coach Bahrom Zahir.
“I believe that we can still make the cut for the quarter-finals provided that we at least win one of our remaining two matches. It will not be easy but it is not impossible.
“The last two games will be tough but we will be at home again (against Perlis’ SMK Syed Hassan on 5 Sept) before travelling away for the final league game against the league leader (Gambang Sports School) a week later. It will be crucial that we pick up at least three points from these two games.”
In the match that was played in Kuala Pilah, the home team was brimming with confidence as they took on the visiting side from Sarawak, who had just travelled a long way from Penang for the game.
And it would seem that playing back to back matches do not sit well with the boys from Tabuan Jaya as they had to defend for much of the game against a spirited SMK Za’ba buoyed by the several hundred at the stand.
In the end, two set-pieces were enough to see off the visitors with the first off Nur Aiman Nashriq Yuslan stabbing home a 14th minute freekick before Muhammad Amirul Rusli floated in a corner to the far post in the 21st minute.
As Negri Sembilan seemed content to take things easy into the second half, it allowed SMK Tabuan Jaya more of the possession. And while they came close with striker Pinsen Anak Renas hitting the crossbar, it did not ignite a revival as the score remained to the end.
While the win improved SMK Za’ba’s chances to be among the five teams from the Super League into the next round, the loss for SMK Tabuan Jaya meant that their season will come to a close.
The side from Sarawak are languishing second from the bottom of the table with just one more game to play for. Their final game of the season will be against SMK Syed Hassan on 12 September.
“Our season is over,” exclaimed SMK Tabuan Jaya coach Kolan Baca Apai afterwards. “The boys were just not concentrating. We seem to have problems playing back to back matches within days of each other.
“We will just have to do better next year and perhaps start our preparation early this time round.”
In the meantime, in the only other match that was played on the day, Kelantan’s SMK Putera were held to a 1-1 draw by SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin of Sabah in the lower Premier League.
Muhammad Azuhal Aiman Abdul Rahman’s goal right at the end in the 70th minute saved the homesters the blushes after Faizul Ibrahim had given the Sabah side the lead after 53 minutes.
Both teams are still within fighting chance to be among the top three teams from the Premier League to make the quarter-finals this year.
SMK Za’ba (NEGERI SEMBILAN) 2
SMK Tabuan Jaya (SARAWAK) 0
|SSM PAHANG (B14)||11||10||1||0||34||1||33||31|
|SMK TUNKU ANUM T.A.R (SSN KEDAH)||13||4||7||2||15||17||-2||19|
|SMK ZA’BA (SSN N.SEMBILAN)||12||4||4||4||11||10||1||16|
|SMK SYED HASSAN (SSN PERLIS)||11||4||3||4||9||13||-4||15|
|SMK MUTIARA IMPIAN (SSN P.PINANG)||12||3||5||4||14||15||-1||14|
|SMK BUKIT NENAS (SSN TERENGGANU)||11||3||4||4||10||16||-6||13|
|SMK TABUAN JAYA (SSN SARAWAK)||13||2||5||6||13||22||-9||11|
|SMK SEKSYEN 11 (SSN SELANGOR)||11||2||1||8||6||18||-12||7|
SMK Putera (KELANTAN) 1
SMK Datuk Peter Monjuntin (SABAH) 1
|SSM TUNKU MAHKOTA ISMAIL (B14)||10||9||0||1||39||6||33||27|
|SMK SERI TITIWANGSA (SSN WP KUALA LUMPUR)||11||7||0||4||15||8||7||21|
|SMK SERI KOTA (SSN MELAKA)||12||5||4||3||22||16||6||19|
|SMK PUTERA (SSN KELANTAN)||12||5||4||3||16||14||2||19|
|SMK DATUK PETER MONJUNTIN (SSN SABAH)||13||5||3||5||15||20||-5||18|
|SMK SEBERANG TEMERLOH (SSN PAHANG)||12||4||2||6||13||23||-10||14|
|SMK TUN HUSSEIN ONN (SSN JOHOR)||12||2||3||7||9||17||-8||9|
|SMK GUNUNG RAPAT (SSN PERAK)||12||2||0||10||7||32||-25||6|
SMK Za’ba (in blue / black) vs SMK Tabuan Jaya (in grey / blue)