Negeri Sembilan sealed a impress 2-1 victory over defending champions Kelantan in the MSL Charity League match. Deemed as underdogs prior to the game, Negeri showed great resilience to overcome a side touted as the best in Malaysia.
Kelantan were up and running from the start, pressuring the Negeri Sembilan defenders. Lebanon striker Mohammed Ghaddar in particular was impressive with his off-the-ball runs. However, as the game grew, Negri's influence increased gradually with Owona a real menace upfront.
Nonetheless, it was Kelantan who deservingly took the lead in the 19th minute when Ghaddar showed great competency at the edge of the box, before finding Norshahrul with a simple pass. The latter jinked past one Negri defender before slotting home in style to give Kelantan the lead.
The goal appeared to be a wake up call for Negeri as Azraai Khor's men raised their tempo. They received their reward in the 30th minute when a defensive mishap by S. Subramanian, allowed Owona to smash in a deflected shot, leaving Khairul Fahmi helpless and restored parity for the Deers.
Owona had another glorious chance to give his team the lead after yet another slip-up from the Kelantan defence, but Khairul Fahmi did brilliantly to deny him and keep the score tied at the break
The second half picked up pace with Negeri coming out firing on all cylinders. Shakir Ali almost gave the Deers the lead after a terrific cross from Kunalan, but his glancing header was denied by the post. Kelantan pushed forward on several occasions but the solidity of Nurhafiz Zamani Misbah and Mahathevan was too hot for the Red Warriors to handle.
In the 63rd minute, Owona scored his second goal, giving Negeri Sembilan a much deserved lead. Tengku Qayyum placed a pin-point cross into the penalty box and the former FC Metz striker headed in at close range.
The defending league champions barely pushed forward from then on and a late onslaught wasn't enough to take away a well-deserved victory from Azraai Khor's boys.