KUANTAN: Last year’s runner-up Terengganu hopes to be second time lucky when they face east coast arch-rivals Kelantan in the Under-18 Malaysian Schools Football Championships (MSSM) final at the Darul Makmur Stadium tomorrow.
As for underdogs Perak, the team stunned defending champions Selangor, to book their spot in the Under-15 category final.
Last year, Terengganu’s Under-18 side lost 2-1 to Penang in the final in Shah Alam and head coach Zaizamroh Yusof, whose side edged Melaka 3-0 in the semi-finals today, is not prepared to suffer another heartbreak.
While his players were celebrating their semi-final victory, Zaizamroh was already busy making plans to stop the much fancied Kelantan side, who sent defending champions Penang 4-2 out on penalties in the quarter-finals, on Wednesday.
“We do not have much time to celebrate as our focus is now to win the final. I will sit down the other coaching staffs and discuss about the team preparations. The good news is the players are all free from injuries.
“Today, after taking a comfortable 3-0 lead, I decided to utilise the substitutes in the final 10 minutes so that the first team players can have some rest. We have been rotating players during the three group matches so that they will be fit for the knock-out stages,” said Zaizamroh, who has the services of two players from the sports schools in Bandar Penawar, Johor and Gambang here respectively.
After a goalless first half, Terengganu dominated the second half and scored through Mohd Hairiey Hakim Mamat, Muhammad Zulfikri Muhamad and Muhammad Hisyam Ismail.
Kelantan, who beat Kuala Lumpur 2-1 in the other semi-finals match today, scored through Aniq Arami Ismail and Asyraf Hanif Zaimi, while Kuala Lumpur scored a late consolation through Harith Akif Mohd Shahar.
Kelantan coach Rizalman Hassan said his players were in high spirits after their morale-boosting win over Penang in the quarter-final on Wednesday and immediately set a target to reach the final.
“In 2012, we lost by a single goal to Terengganu in the final and I hope the boys will be able to avenge the defeat tomorrow. It has been a long time since we made it into the final and we must make good use of the opportunity,” said Rizalman, whose side lost to Penang in the semi-finals last year.
In the Under-15 category, Perak’s Syukur Aiman Ramly’s double which helped his team beat Selangor 2-0, made him joint leading goal scorer alongside Kedah’s Khairil Ammar Zainil with five goals each.
Perak team manager Abdullah Hakim said his players are under no pressure heading into Friday’s final against Melaka, who had earlier beat them 2-0 in the group stages.
“Before coming for the tournament, we set a target for the team to reach the quarter-finals and the boys have been working hard to progress to the final. It has been more than 10 years since Perak made it to the final and we will play our usual game hoping for a favourable result.
“Today’s match against Selangor was tough as they had good players in all positions but my players took their chances early in the game to score twice. Although Melaka beat us in the group stages but I believe the final will be a totally different scenario,” he said.
Under-18 – Semi-final - Terengganu 3 Melaka 0 ; Kelantan 2 Kuala Lumpur 1
Under-15 – Semi-final - Perak 2 Selangor 0 ; Kedah 1 Melaka 2
Under-12 – Semi-final - Perak 2 Pahang 1 ; Kedah 4 Selangor 1
Under-18 - Final - Kelantan vs Terengganu
Under-15 - Final - Melaka vs Perak
Under-12 - Final - Perak vs Kedah