Malacca will be returning to Premier League football after a five-year hiatus. - A. MALEX YAHYA / The Star
PETALING JAYA: It was a proud moment for Malacca as they won the FAM Cup with a bunch of drop-outs.
On Saturday, Malacca edged Perlis 3-2 in the final at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca. They will return to the Premier League next season after a five-year hiatus together with Perlis.
Former Harimau Muda B striker Nurshamil Abdul Ghani scored a hat-trick, including a stoppage-time winner for Malacca’s first silverware in 32 years. Nurshamil was on target in the 39th, 70th and 90th minutes while Syafiq Azmi replied for the Northern Lions in the 16th and 60th minutes.
Malacca coach Mat Zan Mat Aris was proud of misfits in his team.
“The players who could not fit into other teams or clubs were given to me. I was not confident at first, but credit goes to the players for proving the odds wrong. They worked hard and should be proud of themselves,” said the former international midfielder.
The drop-outs who shone for Malacca were Mohd Azizan Baba of Penang, Kelantan’s Muhd Faiz Suhaimi, T-Team’s Muhd Hafizan Talib, Sabah’s Abdul Thaufiq Abdul Haq and Rusmanizam Roseland and Reeshafiq Alwi of Sarawak.
Malacca and Perlis qualified for the Premier League by virtue of emerging champions in their respective groups.
Malacca won promotion from Group A by the narrowest of margins, finishing ahead of Malaysian Indian Sports Council-Malaysian Indian Football Association (MISC-MIFA) on goal difference. Both teams had 36 points.
“There is still plenty of work ahead for Malacca. My contract ends in September. I have not discussed my plans with the management yet. But I am happy with the working conditions and the support of the Malacca FA (Mafa),” said Mat Zan.
The 56-year-old Mat Zan was Harimau Muda B’s assistant coach to Razip Ismail before joining Malacca.
As a player, Mat Zan won the Malaysia Cup on three occasions with Kuala Lumpur. He also won the league title twice. Mat Zan’s last job as head coach was with Terengganu in 2012. In his first stint with Terengganu, he led them to their first Malaysia Cup title in 2001. He also guided Kuala Lumpur to the FA Cup title in 1999.