MALACCA have emerged as a strong favourite to claim the top spot in Group B of the FAM Cup competition.
Malacca showed that they were serious contenders for the title when they comfortably beat table-toppers Malaysian Indian Sports Council- Malaysian Indian Football Association (MISC-MIFA) 2-0 at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca.
Malacca goals came from Nurshamil Abdul Ghani and Mohd Iskandar in the 19th and 82nd minutes respectively.
In fact, MISC-MIFA, who had a six-point advantage before the match, were a big letdown as their players did not show any urgency in the game. They allowed Malacca to take control and were back-pedaling on several occasions.
Malacca could have won by a bigger margin as their strikers were denied by the woodwork on four occasions.
Malacca coach Mat Zan Md Aris said their players gave a good account of themselves.
“It was an important match and we were aware of the situation. We opted to play an attacking game. Our game plan worked and MISC-MIFA were not able to match our fast and swift raids.
“We succeeded in preventing them from playing their normal game. Our defenders also did a good job and did not allow MISC-MIFA strikers to take shots at goal.
“The win is certainly motivating and we are on the right track to finish as group champions and qualify for the final,’’ said Mat Zan.
For MISC-MIFA, it was their second defeat in the competition. Despite their loss, after three straight draws, MISC-MIFA are leading the nine-team table with 27 points from eight wins, three draws and two defeats.
Malacca remained in second spot with 24 points from seven wins, three draws and a loss. But Malacca, having played two matches less, are in a good position to overtake MISC-MIFA to the spot.
The top team from Group B, will play the top team in Group A in the final.
Mat Zan said they had the advantage but were not prepared to relax.
“We will continue training during the fasting month. The training sessions will be at night. We will be well prepared when the competition resumes. We have another five matches and we would like to win maximum points,’’ said Mat Zan.
MISC-MIFA team manager J. Dhinagaran admitted the loss had put them in a tight spot.
“We have another three matches and against strong teams. We have to look ahead and find the cause of our slump in form. We have about a month to correct the shortcomings. It is not going to be an easy task. But we have to look ahead with optimism,’’ said Dhinagaran.
In another Group B match at the Proton Stadium in Tanjung Malim, AirAsia Allstar continued their winning ways when they edged Ipoh Football Association 2-1. It was AirAsia Allstar’s fourth straight win and enabled the airline team to jump to sixth place with 15 points.
In Group A, Perlis maintained their winning streak with a 1-0 win over Sungai Ara FC. With contenders Real Mulia sharing points with UKM FC and Megah Murni going down to Felcra FC, Perlis have taken a comfortable five point lead in the 10-team table.
Real Mulia were held to a 1-1 draw by UKM FC while Felcra FC edged Megah Murni 1-0. Perlis have 31 points from nine wins and four draws; Real Mulia have 26 points (seven wins, five draws and a loss) and Megah Murni are third on 23 points from six wins, five draws and two defeats.
The FAM Cup competition will take a break due to the fasting month and resume on July 26.