BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
PKNS FC U-19 won their first ever Youth Cup title, after defeating Terengganu U-19 2-1 in the final match that was held at the KLFA Stadium, Cheras on Sunday.
The two sides have met earlier in the season, as both were placed in Group A of the regular season. Terengganu won their home match, while the return fixture ended in a draw. The Turtles would go on to top the group after 18 rounds.
Both teams were first time finalists of the competition that began in 2008. En route to reaching the final, the East Coast side downed Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School U-17 and Melaka United U-19 in the knockout phase, while PKNS edged out Negeri Sembilan U-19 and Kedah U-19.
PKNS, the designated visitors of the match, dominated possession from the start, but their forwards lacked the clinical finishing needed to put away the chances they created. It was the designated hosts who came closest to scoring, when Ahmad Nur Rahman Ab Rasid struck his shot inches wide from outside the PKNS box.
However, the deadlock was eventually broken mere moments before the halftime whistle was blown. Asraff Aliffuddin Yasin timed his run into position perfectly before redirecting Ezry Fashli Halimi's corner kick into the back of the net with a glancing header.
Terengganu head coach, former Malaysia international Subri Sulong made the night's first change; a like-for-like substitution, replacing forward Wan Arif Hakimi Ahmad with Firdaus Rusdi.
Just seven minutes into the second half, the home team found the equaliser, from another corner kick. Skipper Tuan Ahmad Muqris Tuan Marzuki met Syaiful Haqim Shahrul's delivery with his header at the near post, to score from short range.
But it did not take long for PKNS to retake the lead, in the 68th minute. Asraff again emerged as his side's hero, stabbing in Aliff Haikal Hakim Lau's pass from inside the box past goalkeeper Syed Muhammad Irfan Syafiq Syed Kamil.
Bizarrely, referee Faiz Jamaludin had to be replaced in the 70th minute, after he picked up a cramp. He had earlier bumped into a PKNS player, and accidentally blocked a pass.
Although seven minutes was given as injury time, the Turtles could not find another reply and the clash ended in a 2-1 win to the Red Ants. The win is their first ever Youth Cup title, and first silverware at domestic junior level.
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