Unbeaten Terengganu, mourning the sudden death of their first-choice goalkeeper Suffian Abdul Rahman hours before the match, continued with their winning ways in the Malaysia Cup with an impressive 3-1 win over Negri Sembilan at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddi Shah Stadium in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday.
With the win, Terengganu remains unbeaten in Group A and top the group with nine points having beaten PKNS FC 3-1 (home) and Kedah 2-0 (away) in their previous matches. Kedah and PKNS FC have four points each, separated by goal difference.
Immediately after the final whistle, the Terengganu players held up Suffian’s jersey and dedicated the win to the 41-year-old Suffian who passed away following a heart attack at about 1 pm in his father in law’s house in Kampung Bukit Tunggal, Kuala Terengganu where the family had gathered for lunch.
On the pitch, Terengganu gave another polished display as they outplayed Negri. Terengganu’s Ivory Coast striker Kipre Tchetche, who scored a brace in Terengganu’s shock 2-0 win over FA Cup champions Kedah in Alor Setar, was on fire again.
Tchetche took his Malaysia Cup tally to five goals with a grand hat-trick, striking in the 42nd, 56th and 8th minutes to keep the 2001 champions on track for a place in the knockout stage. The top two teams from each group will advance.
Winless Negri, who have rested their head coach Mat Zan Aris for the Malaysia Cup after the team failed to gain promotion to the Super League, scored their consolation goal through Igor Luiz in the 67th minute, which more of a gift from Terengganu keeper Wan Azraie Wan Teh who failed to make a clean catch.
Pahang continued their winning ways in Group C to keep their place at the top with nine points from three straight wins. The Elephants, however, had to bring out their best for the 2-1 win over Sabah at the Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu.
Nigerian hot-shot Dickson Nwakaeme gave Pahang the lead after only two minutes before Namibian striker Lazarus Kaimbi whipped in the second in the 35th minute. Angola striker Aquinaldo Mendes got Sabah’s goal on 54 minutes. Sabah is winless after three matches.
Meanwhile, defending champions Perak gave another lacklustre performance at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh in a 1-1 draw against Premier League’s Penang in another Group C match. Perak scored through Ronaldo (12th) while Penang theirs through Casagrande (63rd).
Perak and Penang have four points each and are second and third respectively in the group on goal difference with Sabah at the bottom with a point to show.
In a Group D encounter Melaka United outplayed Felda United 3-1 at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Jengka. With the win, Melaka now topped the group with six points from three matches with Selangor on four points with a game in hand, Police is third on three points and will meet Selangor at the Shah Alam Stadium on Sunday.
S. Deevan Raj scored a brace in the 12th and 61st minutes before Serbian striker Luka Milunovic netted the third. Felda replied through Khairul Amri in the 74h minute. RIZAL ABDULLAH