NEGRI Sembilan Indians Recreation Club finally landed their hands on the prized Penang Indians Association International Invitational Sevens Masters Trophy.
The Negri Sembilan outfit, who has never missed the annual affair since its inauguration in 2012, achieved it at the expense of Penang who was hoping to end the day with a grand double after Penang Indians Association ‘B’ had successfully grabbed the Veterans Cup edging Petaling Jaya Club 3-2 in an earlier final.
Not even the high-riding Penang Sports Club was spared when Negri Sembilan IRC clashed with the team in the Masters final.
The Negri Sembilan IRC charged back with determination from an early deficit to register a come from behind 3-1 win, dashing Penang’s hopes of a double finish at the one-day challenge at the Polo Ground on Saturday.
Negri Sembilan IRC captain S. Ramesh however was not surprised with their achievement.
“My players were all fired up in wanting to do better like finishing a champion and it simply got us going right from the start of the tournament,” said Ramesh shortly after receiving the silverware from Penang Indians Association vice-president Dr Kalaikumar Nachi.
The team also received the RM1,500 top prize cash reward offered by the Penang Indians Association.
“We were also crowned champs Singapore Sevens which was held in Philippines in January as well as the Piala Mentri Besar Veterans crown in February.
“Our success here will surely be a good morale booster to our campaign in the International Football Club challenge that will be held in Cambodia next month,” he said.
Penang Sports Club’s campaign appeared well on track to thetrophy after their 2-1 semi-finals win over Malaysian Indians FA, the early favourite of this year’s tournament but Negri Sembilan IRC sprung the surprise and proved to be the better team.
The clash was barely three minutes old when former Penang State player Thoong Chee Eng struck in right to put Penang Sports Club into a dream lead.
That left Negri Sembilan IRC stunned and they fought back, repelling Penang Sports Club’s advances to hit back with the equaliser just two minutes later through V. Segaran.
There was no looking back since and with striker A. Vijayan hitting home a brace in the 12th and 17th minutes, and Penang Sports Club’s fate was sealed.
Penang Sports Club, thoughdisappointed with the outcome, still earned them a RM1,000 purse for finishing a runner-up.
Both Penang Indians Association ‘B’ and Petaling Jaya Club also received an identical cash award of RM1,500 and RM1,000 for coming away as the top two in the Veterans challenge.
The tournament attracted 14 teams for their Masters event, and included teams from Australia and Singapore.
“Our only hiccup was when our Indonesian friends pulled out. But this is understandable since our tournament clashes with the fasting month,” said organising chairman R. Kirubanatanthan.
“I am however proud to be able to have 20 teams for this years tournament. While six teams featured in the Veterans challenge, 14 others fought their hearts out for the Masters honours.”
Masters: Q-finals: Malaysian Indians FA bt Muar Indians Association (3-0); Penang Sports Club bt Indians Association Penang (3-2 on penalties/ FT: 2-2); Negri Sembilan Indians Recreation Club bt Black Panthers (2-0); Prai Veterans bt Singapore Indians Association (1-0).
S-finals: Penang Sports Club bt Malaysian Indians FA (2-1); Negri Sembilan Indians Recreation Club bt Prai Veterans (2-1).
Finals: Negri Sembilan Indians Recreation Club bt Penang Sports Club (3-1).
Veterans Final: Penang Indians Association ‘B’ bt Petaling Jaya Club (3-2).