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Friday October 4, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday October 4, 2013 MYT 1:27:55 PM
Wings of victory: Kuala Lumpur MAS Sports Club players celebrating after beating Thai Crew United 'A' in the final.
WHEN Kuala Lumpur MAS Sports Club blundered twice from the penalty spot, they must have thought all was lost.
Luckily, they got their act together to walk off as champs of the biennial Inter-Airlines football challenge in the end.
The Kuala Lumpur outfit faced Bangkok-based Thai Crew United ‘A’ in the final played in Penang.
The match had to be decided on penalties after it ended with a goalless draw.
Kuala Lumpur MAS Sports Club must have been relieved that the Thai Crew United ‘A’ players also blundered at penalties, twice cracking their shot against the post.
In the end, it was the Malaysians who powered their way to a 4-2 win and became the new champs of the challenge which was in its 14th edition.
Defending champions MAS Wing Kuching and last year’s runners-up Penang MAS Sports Club failed to make it to the final.
Kuala Lumpur MAS Sports Club skipper Mohamed Faiz Zainudin was understandably all smiles after the final.
“We never really thought we could troop out as outright champs, taking into consideration the strong field of teams,” he said.
“Our ultimate target was to just make it to the final.
“When we finally trooped in for the final on Sept 28 at the Polo Ground in Penang, we just played with confidence as we had already fulfilled our pre-tournament target.
“My teammates were so encouraged, they just went out there and gave their best.
“We managed to produce that little extra and rightly reaped our reward,” he said.
Mohamed Faiz added that this victory allowed them to bury the disappointment of crashing out after the preliminary round two years ago.
He was not wrong to claim there were strong teams this year as the challenge hosted by Penang managed to attract four good foreign teams.
The Thais paraded two teams from Bangkok in Thai Crew United ‘A’ and ‘B’ while the other foreign outfits were Jordanian Airlines and Vietnamese Airlines.
On the local front, Sarawak entered two teams which included defending champs MAS Wing Kuching.
Kuala Lumpur also fielded two teams.
Three other states which paraded a team each were Sabah (Kota Kinabalu), Selangor (Subang) and host Penang.
For Kuala Lumpur MAS Sports Club, their new title was richly deserved, judging from the way they dominated the field in the final.
Despite being up against a forceful and skilful Thai Crew United ‘A’, they never allowed their Thai counterparts to dictate terms.
But to their astonishment and dismay, they found the Thai goalkeeper Varit Sangkrazang to be a big stumbling block, stopping all their attacking forays.
Even when MAS Sports Club did look good to break the deadlock when they were awarded a penalty in the 23rd minute of the 30 minute final showdown, Sangkrazang pulled off a grand save.
The goalkeeper parried away a Mohamed Saifulnizam Mohamed attempt to keep his goal intact.
Showing that his stunning save was not a flash in the pan, Sangkrazang repeated the feat eight minutes into the 10 minutes of extra time.
This time, he confidently parried away an Ahmad Amli Zakaria attempt, much to the frustration of the Kuala Lumpur outfit.
However, when a penalty shootout was forced due to the stalemate after extra time, Sangkrazang failed to reproduce his sparkling form.
This proved fatal for Thai Crew United ‘A’ as Sangkrazang’s teammates twice failed in the penalty shootout.
Host Penang were edged out by a solitary goal in the semi-final.
They wrapped up their campaign on a consolation note when they took the third spot, beating Thai Crew United ‘B’ 6-5 on penalties.
S-finals: MAS Sports Club (Kul) bt Thai Crew United ‘B’ (Bangkok) 6-0; Thai Crew United ‘A’ (Bangkok) bt MAS Sports Club (Pen) 1-0 (FT: 0-0).
3rd place: Mas Sports Club (Pen) bt Thai Crew United ‘B’ (6-5 on penalties).
Final: MAS Sports Club (Kul) bt Thai Crew United ‘A’ (4-2 on penalties) (FT/ET: 0-0).
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Sport, Northern Region, football
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