BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The first match of the first round to be played was during the evening, between UiTM FC and Sabah, which ended with a 4-1 win to the university side. The college boys had their recent signing, Pavel Purishkin to thank for, as the Uzbek scored a hattrick in the match. Prince Nnake equalised for Sabah in the 50th minute to cancel Purishkin's 30th minute opener, but the Uzbek added his and his team's second in the 74th minute, before Eliel da Cruz scored the third six minutes later. In injury time, Purishkin completed his hattrick.
At the Pasir Gudang Stadium, DRB-Hicom pulled off a major upset when they defeated Johor Darul Ta'zim II (JDT II) 3-1. Although the home side's skipper Shahril Ishak equalised in 27th minute after DRB-Hicom's 12th minute Nazri Kamal opener, the visitors took lead again 6 minutes later through Ivan Babic's effort. And 12 minutes from time, the Great Bees compounded JDT's misery by adding their third goal, this time through their South Korean midfielder Kim Jin Ryong.
Another upset was produced in Kangar, when recent promotion Perlis met recent demotion ATM. The Northern Lions hammered the financially-beleaguered Gladiators, who fielded mostly non-professional army personnel, 6-1 at home. The home team's goals were scored by Obinna Nwaneri (3'), Alafi Mahmud (9') their recent New Zealand signing Kayne Vincent (20', 36'), Afif Amiruddin (30') and Sadam Hashim (45'). ATM brought in their substitution goalkeeper Safril Hafizie Safari at the start of the second half, and that seemed to stop Perlis from making ATM's night worse. The Gladiators found their only goal of the match in the 50th minute through Zaironi Yusof, but were unable to add more.
The other recent promotion, Melaka meanwhile put on a memorable performance to earn a hard-earned 2-2 draw against the other recent demotion, Sime Darby FC at Selayang. After Frederic Pooda's brace (3', 24') and Balsa Bozovic's 18th minute goal made it 2-1, the visitors left it until deep into injury time to find the equalising goal, through striker Nurshamil Abdul Ghani rebound strike.
Meanwhile in the Melaka state itself, PKNS FC's ambition of winning the MPL was brought down to earth, when they lost 1-0 to Kuala Lumpur at the Hang Jebat Stadium. The only goal of the match was scored through Anselmo Da Salva's 65th minute effort, making up for his 18th minute missed penalty.
In Paroi, Negeri Sembilan drew 1-1 against Kuantan, in a match that ended with both sides reduced to 10 men. The Deers' Australian signing Andrew Nabbout opened the scoring in the 33th minute when he beat goalkeeper Zairi Hafiezi from outside the box, but the visitors equalised through Dao Bakary's penalty in the 53th minute. Eight minutes later, Negeri Sembilan's Hariri Shafii and Kuantan's Hazwan Fakhrullah were sent off for an altercation, and the match then ended 1-1.
After Matchday 1, here is the current league standing from top to the bottom: Perlis, UiTM, DRB-Hicom, Kuala Lumpur (3 points), Melaka, Sime Darby, Kuantan, Negeri Sembilan (1 point), PKNS, JDT II, Sabah and ATM (0 point).
Matchday 2 will be played this Monday and Tuesday (Feb 15 and 16) with league leaders Perlis taking on second-placed UiTM, Kuala Lumpur taking on JDT II, Melaka playing at home against PKNS, DRB-Hicom taking on Negeri Sembilan, Kuantan facing Sabah, and Sime Darby playing strugglers ATM. Only Sime Darby's match will be played on Tuesday in this second round.