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Wednesday September 11, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday September 11, 2013 MYT 9:57:06 AM
SO close and yet so far. SMK Tunku Anum could have had the Ministry of Education Under-17 football crown in their hands by now.
However, their bid for the league title has been foiled by a surprising one-nil loss to SMK Seri Titiwangsa in the return leg match at the Tunku Anum mini stadium in Tok Jalai, Jitra, Kedah.
Both teams had drawn one-all when they met in the first leg on Feb 23.
The player who spoiled the party for Tunku Anum was Seri Titiwangsa defender Mohd Akeemi Nazreen, who blasted in a goal in the 44th minute.
Going into the penultimate match as table toppers with 33 points from 14 matches, the homesters needed the three points from a win to wrap up the title with a game to spare.
But Tunku Anum failed to capitalise on their bright start.
They had the visitors on the defensive in the first 15 minutes. During the early forays, Tunku Anum created three goal scoring chances with the Seri Titiwangsa defence in disarray but all their chances went to waste.
The first chance was in the eighth minute when Mohd Azrul Haziq and Mohd Adib Abu Bakar exchanged one-two passes to break through the unsettled defence but Azrul’s left-footed shot missed the net.
In the 12th minute, Mohd Akeemi was booked for a foul on Nazrul Najmi near the penalty area as the latter was weaving his way towards goal but the resultant freekick went straight into the defence wall.
The homesters came back soon after with another breakthrough in the 15th minute but again it proved to be fruitless. A right flank move gave Som Keat Praseart an open chance but the striker’s hurried shot swerved over the goalmouth.
Tunku Anum created yet another chance in the 16th minute when they worked their way through the middle with neat passes but to their dismay, Azrul Haziq’s stiff shot was palmed away by Seri Titiwangsa goalkeeper-cum-skipper Wan Ahmad Hababa.
After the early frights, Seri Titiwangsa settled down to harass the home team with their hard running and robust play.
They resorted to long passes and high crosses into the Tunku Anum penalty box but the Tunku Anum defenders led by Akmal Afizan and Mohd Shahfaif Shahbani rose to the occasion by keeping their opponents at bay.
But as the minutes ticked away
to half-time, Seri Titiwangsa
obtained a free kick midway in the Tunku Anum half and off the set piece, Mohd Akeemi Nazreen outjumped the Tunku Anum defenders to score to the bewilderment of the home fans.
Tunku Anum went all out in the second half to save the match and ran themselves ragged.
All their efforts were systematically checked by a stout defence which was determined to keep the lead.
In the process, six Tunku Anum players went into referee Mohd Zaidi Zakaria’s book as they committed several fouls in desperation.
However, it was Seri Titiwangsa who had a player sent off. Mohd Amirun Zakwan was booked for a second time in the 86th minute and sent off the pitch. He had already been cautioned earlier in the 24th minute.
This was Tunku Anum’s second defeat at home having lost to SMK Mutiara Impian by 0-3 on May 11.
Tunku Anum with 33 points have squandered a golden chance of winning the U-17 league title with this loss.
Their nearest rivals SMK Bukit Nenas, Terengganu, who have collected 35 points, can emerge champions if they win their last match against SMK Seksyen 11, Selangor, on Sept 14.
Tunku Anum have another match against Pahang Sports School later but victory will not be a passport to the title as they have to wait for the result of the match on Sept 14.
In an earlier Under-14 match, SMK Seri Titiwangsa and SMK Tunku Anum shared honours with a one- all draw.
Seri Titiwangsa took the lead in the 25th minute through their skipper Mohd Syuiab Mohamad who finished off a move he started from his own half.
Tunku Anum equalised in the 35th minute through Mohd Alief Najmi Radzi.
The visitors were just unlucky not to take home full points when striker Mohd Irfan Hasnusan’s close range shot rocked the crossbar on the stroke of full-time and was cleared by the defence.
The draw proved to be enough for Tunku Anum to retain the Under-14 league title as their nearest rivals SMK Mutiara Impian lost their match against SMK Tunku Mahkota Ismail 2-1.
Tunku Anum have collected 29 points to top the table while Mutiara Impian, who had a chance of pipping the leaders, remain on 26 points. Both teams qualify for the knockout stage.
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Sport, News, Community, Northern Region, sports school, Tunku Anum, Seri Titiwangsa
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