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Melaka secure Premier League title, KL's promotion hopes dashed


GOAL BY    ZULHILMI ZAINAL      Follow on Twitter


Melaka United completed a glorious night for football in the southern peninsular Malaysia, when around the same time that JDT were celebrating their 2016 Super League title win with a 3-0 win over Terengganu at Larkin, the Mousedeers too were celebrating their Premier League title win some 200 kilometers to the north, after they drew 1-1 with JDT II at the Hang Jebat Stadium. The home side needed only a draw in the match to lift the title, and were made to wait until the 78th minute to open the scoring, through Yashir Pinto. Although centre back Rafael De Jesus Bonfim equalised for the visitors in the dying minutes of the match, the one point was enough to allow the Mousedeers to lift the trophy. However more importantly, they will return to the Super League for the first time in 10 years, in the 2017 season.

Melaka United's Yashir Pinto celebrating his goal against Johor Darul Ta'zim II. Photo by FMLLP

But the draw was detrimental to the Southern Tigers, when they were pipped to the second spot by PKNS, who beat relegation-threatened ATM 1-0 at the Temerloh Municipal Stadium. The only goal of the match was scored by Palestine international Matias Jadue, in the 33rd minute. ATM meanwhile are still in the relegation zone, in the second-last position with 12 points, although they are only separated by two points from safety.

Fourth-placed Kuala Lumpur's (KL) slim hope of winning the last remaining promotion spot was dashed, when they lost 2-0 to fifth Negeri Sembilan at the Selayang Municipal Stadium. The visitors went two up in the first half, thanks to 28th and 33rd-minute goals by their foreign players; Goran Jerkovic and Alex Smith. The home side pulled one back in the 73rd minute through Naim Nazmi Zainuddin, but couldn't find the equaliser. The defeat means KL are eight points behind PKNS, with only two matches remaining in the league.

Kuala Lumpur vs Negeri Sembilan match highlights.

Bottom-placed Sime Darby FC meanwhile fell to their second-straight defeat, after they lost 2-1 to Perlis at the Tuanku Syed Putra Stadium. The home side opened the scoring in the first half through captain Afif Amiruddin, but the visitors equalised in the 70th minute through Obiikechukwu Charles. However Brazilian striker Charles Souza Chad scored Perlis' winning goal later. Despite the defeat, Sime Darby still have the chance to escape relegation, as they are only separated by three points from safety, with two matches remaining to be played. Perlis meanwhile moved up to sixth.

Sabah confirmed their stay in the second division for another season, with a 2-2 away draw to DRB-Hicom at the Proton Mini Stadium. The Bees had a glorious chance to go in front as early as the third minute when Ivan Babic was fouled in the penalty box, but the Croatian's penalty was saved by goalkeeper Rozaimie Rohim. But Babic redeemed himself five minutes from the halftime whistle, scoring a thunderous freekick that sailed into the top right corner, that this time Rozaimi could not keep out. But the Rhinos came back roaring in the second half, equalising through Indonesia international Dedi Kusnandar's 51st minute goal. When Igor Cerina struck home Sabah's second in the 83rd minute, the away fans must have thought that they would collect all three points in the match, but Kim Jin Ryong found the equaliser for the home side deep in injury time. But the draw was not enough to stop DRB from dropping one spot to seventh.

In the remaining match in the round, tenth-placed UiTM FC inched closer towards safety, when they nicked an away draw against Kuantan at the Darul Makmur Stadium. Dao Bakary scored the opening goal in the 33rd minute for the Seagulls, but the university boys equalised in the 75th minute. Kuantan remained in eighth following the draw and have escaped relegation, while UiTM are now two points above the relegation zone.

Kuantan vs UiTM. Photo by Kuantan FA Facebook

The current league standings are as follows:

Melaka (49), PKNS (42), JDT II (41), KL (34), Negeri (31), Perlis (31), DRB-Hicom (27), Kuantan (23), Sabah (20), UiTM (14), ATM (12), Sime Darby (11)

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