Malaysia Cup Final: Kelantan 3-2 ATM (AET)
Kelantan had Norshahrul Talaha, Khairul Fahmi and Indra Putra to thank as they won a thrilling Malaysia Cup final with a 3-2 Extra-Time victory over Armed Forces
By Mark Dawson
ATM had the first sniff of goal in the second minute from a free-kick after Marlon James was fouled by S Subramaniam. The ball was swung over to the far post with Kelantan keeper Khairul Fahmi attempting to come and claim it however he could not get anything on the ball and was fortunate that no ATM players were able to get a header on the ball. Kelantan had the first real chance of the game in the sixth minute when Afiq Azmi out jumped Amirizdwan Taj to meet a left-wing cross from Daudsu Jamaludin however his headed attempt was too central allowing Farizal Harun to tip the effort over the bar.
The first ten minutes were frantic, punctuated by lots of fouls. ATM were looking more assured in possession and pressuring Kelantan well, while the Red Warriors played more direct balls forward.
In the 13th minute Norshahrul Talaha had his first effort of the evening after he robbed Rezal in the penalty box after the ATM midfielder was slow in clearing Daudsu’s long throw, however the forwards fierce left-foot half volley flew wide of Farizal’s goal. Less than a minute later it was ATM, and Hairuddin Omar’s (Hai-O) chance to go close as he hit a dipping half volley from just inside the area, however his shot was too high to trouble Fahmi. Norshahrul was a constant thorn in the side of the ATM defence and in the 15th minute he cleverly beat Aidil Zafuan Razak inside the area with a neat step-over before firing another attempt on goal which Farizal was able to palm away.
Kelantan’s centre-back Obinna Nwaneri was guilty of a number of clumsy challenges in the opening period, committing five fouls in the first 20 minutes and ATM went close from another free-kick which he gave away in the 17th minute. The ball was swung over to the far post and Amirizdwan this time out jumped Afiq but could not steer his header on target.
The Red Warriors were coming more and more into the game, making it a point to limit the influence of Bruno Martelotto and Marlon James through some tough challenges, and they again came close to breaking the deadlock in the 22nd minute. A good passing move released Afiq on the left and his low cross was spilled by Farizal, the ball made its way to Shakir Shaari and his timid shot dribbled through to Norshahrul, however he rushed his shot and his weak flicked effort posed no problems for Farizal in the ATM goal.
Indra Putra was next to try his luck in the 38th minute with a 35 yard free-kick following Reuben’s clumsy foul on Norshahrul. His long range effort was beaten away unconvincingly by Farizal however Kelantan were unable to make anything of the rebound. Two minutes later Afiq again had a headed opportunity as he beat Amirizdwan to a corner, but he could only head over.
Kelatan were not to be denied for too long and they broke the deadlock on the stroke of half time with a deserved goal for the industrious Norshahrul. It was Shakir who began the move following a classy interception in his own half before he sprayed the ball wide to Badri Radzi. The captain then played Norshahrul into the right-side of the area, the forward hit a low effort across goal from a tight angle which Farizal Harun inexplicably allowed to go through his hands in a nightmare moment for the ATM custodian. This was how it stayed until the half, Kelantan 1-0 ATM.
Barely a minute had expired in the second half when Kelantan were forced into a change, with Subramaniam having to be replaced by Rizal Fahmi following a collision with Hai-O. Things would go from bad to worse for the Red Warriors as they were soon pegged back. Christie Jayaselan’s near-post corner was cleared by Norshahrul only as far as Rezal Zambery and his effort from the edge of the box flew in following a deflection off Obinna.
ATM’s pleasure soon turned into pain as they again went behind barely a minute later in the 50th minute. They didn’t even touch the ball from the restart as Norshahrul bagged his second goal of the game as he picked up on the left of the box and all too easily cut inside Reuben before firing home a near post effort which Farizal should again have done better with. It was poor defending all around by ATM as Reuben was caught ball watching and Amirizdwan played two players onside.
Zaquan Adha Razak tried to bring ATM level again but his long range effort from the edge of the area in the 54th minute was screwed wide. Kelantan looked the likelier to add to their lead, firstly as Badri hit a fine free kick from near the left touchline which was fisted over the bar, before Afiq again rose highest from the corner, but his header was turned behind by Zaquan.
The Gladiators of ATM were struggling to provide any service for their forwards which led to their first change of the night with Venice Elphi replacing the ineffectual Christie. His impact was immediate as he was fouled on the left side of the pitch by Shakir after he had outpaced him. From the resulting free kick Marlon James headed home from six yards following Rezal’s pinpoint delivery to again bring ATM level. It was his 12th goal in this year’s Malaysia Cup and his 33rd goal of the season.
Thanks to the impact of Venice, who looked sharp, ATM were back on top with Kelantan looking shell shocked. In the 68th minute James found space, however he decided to shoot rather than play in Zaquan on the right and he blazed his shot over. A minute later ATM almost took the lead for the first time, Bruno was found with the ball in space after Reuben had ended a Kelantan attack, he played in Venice on left who cut inside the full-back but was foiled by Khairul who made a fantastic low save with his feet at the near post.
The game was now an end to end affair. Afiq could have given Kelantan the lead for a third time in the 76th minute following a poor defensive header from Aidil, but he hesitated and played the ball back to Indra Putra who could not get a shot away. In the 80th minute Venice was again found in space following good play by Reuben, Bruno and Hai-O but his shot skewed off his foot into Khairul’s hands. Zakwan almost won the game for ATM in the 91st minute as he burst free on the right and outpaced Daudsu, however Khairul was again alert to keep out his cross shot, sending the game into extra time.
ATM started the first period of extra time the strongest and they had the first chance from a free kick after Mafry Balang fouled Hai-O. The ball was swung over from 35 yards and Aidil found himself with a free header from only eight yards out, however he could only head way over. It proved to be costly as minutes later Kelantan’s Shakir did well to keep the ball in midfield before he threaded a pass through to Badri who played a delightful first time ball into the area to Indra Putra who found the corner of the net with an exquisite right foot half-volley.
In the 98th minute it seemed as if ATM would equalise for a third time as a great cross was swung over from the right by Zakwan, presenting Hai-O with a free header from six yards out, but he was again denied by Khairul who was having an inspired game. Soon after Zakwan then hit a shot which Khairul could only palm out to Marlon James who swept home, however he correctly flagged offside.
As extra-time went on chances were at a premium as the rigours of the game took its toll on players with many suffering with cramp. ATM looked dead and buried before a flurry of late chances. Firstly in the 116th minute, Rezal Zambery curled an effort from the edge of the area which struck the outside of the post. In the final minute of regulation time the ball fell to Bruno from 12 yards out, after it was half cleared by Obinna, however the Argentinean crucially lent back and fired well over. The last chance of the game again fell to Bruno, this time in the 123rd minute, as he had a free header from 10 yards, however he got underneath the ball and saw his header float harmlessly over. That was the last significant action of the game and as the final whistle blew, The Red Warriors of Kelantan had completed a domestic treble with the addition of the Malaysia Cup in an enthralling match.
|Sign up with Ladbrokes for a free bet up to $100|