‘HURRICANE MALACCA’ SWEEP PAST TERENGGANU

Underdogs Malacca produced a scintillating performance to upset Terengganu 5-4 in the TNB 53rd Tun Abdul Razak Cup Division One tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Also known as ‘The Hurricanes’, Malacca overcame a gritty Terengganu that mounted pressure in the last 10 minutes in search of the equaliser.

Down 3-4 by the third quarter, Malacca rallied back with a hat-trick from Amirullah Zainol (28th, 33rd and 47th) while Muhamad Firdaus scored a brace (40th, 49th) from penalty corners.

The east coast state replied with field goals from Mohd Shazwi Rani (41st, 44th), Mohd Fitri Saari, the younger brother of national forward Faizal, scored a penalty goal in the 39th minute, and Nik Aiman Saberi (42nd, FG).

Perak also began their title defence with a 7-3 demolition of Penang. Coach K. Yogeswaran side sliced through the Penang defence almost at will, scoring five goals in bewildering third and fourth quarters.

A hat-trick from Muhammad Haziq Samsul (6th, 40th, and 60th) pinned Penang down and Muhamad fitri Ismail (26th), Meor Muhammad Azuan (37th), Hafifi Haziq Samsul (43rd) and Azril Misron (54th) gave Perak more reasons to burst with optimism.

Izwan Firdaus Ahmad Tajuddin replied for Penang through field goals in the 19th, 35th and 36th minutes. The opening day matches scheduled to start at 6pm were earlier delayed by more than two hours due to rain.

In other matches, Pahang defeated Negeri Sembilan 1-0 and 19-time champions Kuala Lumpur threw everything they had to force a 4-4 draw against a highly energetic Johor.

It was Johor who stunned KL by taking a 3-1 lead at the interval but let their guard down and allowed K. Dharmaraj’s boys to claw back in the fourth quarter.

Mohd Ramadhan Rosli shot KL ahead with a fourth minute field goal. Johor, however, went on to take a 3-1 lead through Mohammad Nor Haziq (8th, PC) and Muhammad Azammi Adabi’s brace (10th, 21st, FG).

KL pulled back a goal in the 40th minute through Nor Hizzat Sumantri to close the gap at 3-2 but their best was not good enough as Mohammad Zulhamizan Awang struck for Johor with a 54st minute penalty corner to push the 19-time champions against the wall once again.

National junior forward Shahril Saabah threw a lifeline for KL by scoring two field goals within a space of one minute (55th and 56th) which saved Dharmaraj’s side the blushes in this opening day act.

Pahang, who lost to Perak in the 2014 final, cleared their first hurdle against Negeri Sembilan, courtesy of an Ahmad Kazamirul Nasaruddin 29th minute penalty corner goal. It was Pahang’s only penalty corner earned throughout the match and they made good use of it.

“We only got together as a team hours before the match and I consider lucky to pull off this win,” said Pahang team captain, Muhammad Hafiz Zainul. “The juniors and senior players must get our act together against Johor on Wednesday.”

Negeri Sembilan coach, S. Chandran, was disillusioned at the many opportunities they had and credited Pahang and former national goalkeeper Khairul Nizam Ibrahim for keeping his forwards at bay despite Negeri, who last won the Razak Cup 37 years ago, were in control of the match in the third and fourth quarters.

“I told my players before the match if we ever lose to Pahang it is going to be from a penalty corner. They had one chance and scored. We need to start scoring and that is the only way to go forward,” added Chandran.

Results – Division One Group A: Perak 7 Penang 3; Malacca 5 Terengganu 4; Group B: Pahang 1 Negeri Sembilan 0; Johor 4 Kuala Lumpur 4.

Today – Division One Group A: Terengganu v Penang (Pitch 1, 8.0pm); Malacca v Perak (Pitch 2, 8.0pm).
Division 2: Kelantan v Perlis (Pitch 1, 4.0pm); Selangor v Police (Pitch 1, 6.0pm); Sarawak v Armed Forces (Pitch 2, 8.0pm).

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