GEORGE TOWN: The gloves are off in the battle for the Premier League’s two promotion spots.
The Football Association of Penang (FAP) have lodged an official complaint to the FA of Malaysia’s (FAM) integrity committee over the nature of T-Team’s 7-0 Premier League victory over basement club SPA Putrajaya in Kuala Terengganu on Tuesday.
The Terengganu club side’s huge win has all but extinguished Penang’s hopes of gaining promotion to next season’s Super League.
With one game to go on Friday, T-Team and Penang are tied on 42 points, three behind leaders Kedah.
The islanders started the match against DRB-Hicom at the City Stadium on Tuesday with a one-goal advantage over T-Team.
Ninety minutes later, Penang found themselves with a five-goal deficit to overcome despite winning 2-1.
“The manner in which the 7-0 result was obtained was dubious. I watched all the goals on the internet, and SPA’s attempt to defend was comical to say the least,” said FAP vice-president Datuk Gary Nair.
“I can accept one or two freak goals in a match, but there were simply too many comedy of errors by SPA.
“We lodged a formal complaint with FAM on Wednesday because it is not fair to Penang. We poured in so much effort, money and time to chase promotion, and to lose out in this manner is a shame for Malaysian football as a whole.
“The integrity of Malaysian football will be tarnished if FAM choose to sweep this matter under the carpet. A thorough investigation is needed.
“Our fans at the City Stadium were stunned when they heard the 7-0 result and the Penang players were in tears. I fear fans will stay away from Malaysian football if nothing is done by the authorities to prevent suspicious performances and results in important matches.”
Kedah only need a draw in their final game against DRB-Hicom to be crowned league champions.
With their five-goal advantage, a simple victory over second-last Kuantan FA should be enough for T-Team to secure the second promotion berth.
Penang, who face UiTM FC at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca, must hope for either Kedah to lose or T-Team to falter in Kuantan to sneak into the top two.
One FAP’s request which has been approved by the FAM competitions committee is to have all the final day matches to start at 8.45pm.
Earlier, the UiTM FC-Penang tie was scheduled to kick off at 4.45pm.
The switch is music to the ears of Penang coach Jacksen Tiago.
“It is good psychologically for our players to play at night because we have not done too well in afternoon kickoffs. If we had played earlier, our rivals also would have an advantage as they would know what they need to do,” said Tiago.
“People tell me UiTM will be easy because they have nothing to play for, but I disagree. They can play without fear and pressure, and will be dangerous. It is our duty to fight for the three points against UiTM. I hope it will be good enough to get us promoted to the Super League.”