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Malaysia Cup

  • August 26, 2014
  • • 20:45
  • • Stadium Sultan Mohammad IV, Kota Bharu

Kelantan 1-2 ATM: Hairuddin seals Armed Forces' comeback

Kelantan 1-2 ATM: Hairuddin seals Armed Forces' comeback

Sinar Harian

The veteran skipper headed in the winner to keep their qualification hopes alive.

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The second round of the Malaysia Cup group stage kicked off earlier, and Group C runners up Kelantan took on third-placed ATM in Kota Bharu. The two had earlier met just last Saturday in Shah Alam, with Kelantan winning the match 3-0. The home side, with six points before the match, needed to repeat their performance on Saturday to maintain their supremacy, whereas the Gladiators, with only two points from the previous three matches, needed nothing less than a win to maintain their quickly evaporating chance of qualifying to the knockout stage.

Despite the torrential rain that made play heavier than usual, Kelantan managed to threaten the visitors' goalmouth in the first fifteen minutes. Skipper Badhri Razi and forward Forkey Doe combined well to bring the ball into the ATM box, but Doe either rushed his finishes, or was caught by the offside trap.

In the 26th minute, Doe received a short pass in the ATM box before attempting a turning shot, but his shot was a little too close to ATM custodian Syed Adney, and Adney had very little problem gathering it.

In the meantime, ATM were a little conservative in attack, with only forward Juan Manuel Arestogui venturing into the Kelantan danger area to try to find the lead. However, he was thwarted more often by the linesman than the Red Warriors' defenders.

But just as the first half was looking to end goalless, in the 42nd minute Doe finally found the first goal. Fitri Omar squared the ball to him at the edge of the ATM box, and Doe outmuscled ATM centreback Park Yong-Ho on his way in before scooping the ball over the diving Adney.

Kelantan had an immediate chance to double their lead just two minutes into the second half when Doe laid off the ball to Badhri, but his shot hit the post instead. 

Five minutes later, the post again denied Kelantan's second. Fitri's low cross found forward Fakri Saarani in the box and he only managed to hit the ball into the post with what looked like his thigh.

In the 56th minute, Bruno Martelotto's cross from the right was met by Arestogui with a header, but the looping header dropped behind the bar instead.

ATM did themselves no favour when two minutes later, their skipper Hairuddin Omar clashed heads with his teammate Fauzi Saari in an effort to deal with a high ball. The referee stopped play while the both of them were treated, although by rights the treatment should have been performed off the pitch.

After wasting numerous chances and failing to add to his tally, Doe was finally substituted off by head coach George Boateng for Izuan Rosli in the 71st minute.

However against the run of play, ATM equalised in the 77th minute through Arestogui, who finally managed to time his run well. Kelantan's defence line failed to pull off their offside trap properly to deal with a lobbed pass, and Arestogui received the ball unchallenged before slotting it past Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi.

Five minutes later Wan Zaharulnizam missed the chance to retake the lead for Kelantan not once, but on two occasions. His first try was blocked by Adney, his second went well wide. He and Kelantan would be made to rue the misses.

While Kelantan were busy trying to retake the lead, Hairuddin, bandaged head and all, headed in a freekick that was taken by Irwan Fadzli in the 86th minute, after an ATM player was fouled. Despite the six minutes of stoppage time given by the ref, Kelantan never found their second goal. The three points were ATM's, and the two sides are now only separated by a point.