Kuala Lumpur (KL) maintained their position at the top of the Malaysia Premier League after defeating PKNP FC 1-0 at Selayang Stadium on Friday night's action. The City boys lead the standings by virtue of a better goal difference to Terengganu as a small gap start to appear between the two teams to third-placed Negeri Sembilan.
Even though KL were largely on top throughout the match, they had to wait until the 80th minute to get their winning goal - not without a huge slice of luck as well. PKNP's left back Raffi Nargoorgani in an attempt to dispossess Zhafri Yahya inside the penalty box, inexplicably kicked the ball towards his own goal which caught out keeper Ahmad Asyraaf.
KL's head coach Fabio Marciel was delighted with the win but thinks it is still a long way to go before they can celebrate. The Brazilian is also hoping for favours from the other teams in the remaining matches, now that the league is heading towards the home straight.
"[I'm] Very happy. It wasn't easy, PKNP was there fighting. Congratulations for my players because even though we weren't perfect, we created plenty of chances. We controlled the game. We forced them to play long ball."
"For Malaysia Cup, I cannot play two games, that's why I give priority for the Premier League. Nothing is finish, there are still 3 hard games. I don't know all teams when they play against others, they are not doing what they doing against KL. I think they hate KL, I don't know. When they play against KL, they play like the World Cup final and when against other teams, like a cat," said Fabio after the match.
As for PKNP, having started the match with just one point away from the top, they are now trailing by four points. However, destiny still lie in their own hands as two of their remaining three matches are against fellow promotion-chasing sides in Terengganu and Negeri Sembilan.
PKNP played without Kim Hyun-Woo and Vincent Weijl - which contributed to them struggling to impose themselves in the game. Abu Bakar Fadzim is adamant that his team remains in the hunt and as long as it is still possible, they will not give up on their hopes to reach the Super League.
"We saw the determination from our players even though we were two imports less today as well as the early injury to Hafiz [Ramdan]. But we weren't at our best today, Kuala Lumpur were better and in the end, it was an own goal that gave them the win."
"We still have 3 more matches.Yes, we wil try. We will accept what comes," said Abu Bakar.
The league now takes a 6-weeks break to accommodate the upcoming South-East Asian Games, KL and PKNP will resume their promotion battle on 19 September when they face UiTM FC and Negeri Sembilan respectively.