KELANTAN emerged winners of the 10th Malaysian Deaf Football Championships on home soil after a 3-1 win over Sabah in their final match of the league-format tournament.
Their victory at Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium in Kota Baru, Kelantan, also marked their third consecutive win in the competition (2016 and 2017) which has been held intermittently since the inaugural edition in 1985.
The hosts scored first in the 24th minute to take the lead before doubling it to 2-0 in the 45th.
Sabah saw their first goal from a penalty in the 59th minute after a handball in the penalty area.
Kelantan, however, saw their lead increase to a comfortable 3-1 in the 81st minute and were able to subdue Sabah’s attacks in the final minutes to clinch the title along with RM3,500 in prize money.
Second-placed Sabah, which last won the championship in 2015, took home RM2,500 while Terengganu in third place received RM1,500 after thrashing Negri Sembilan 8-4 in their fixture.
The special awards of the tournament went to Terengganu’s captain Razilawali Wahab for the highest number of goals scored (13) while Kelantan’s Nik Mohd Hariz Nik Hassan got the honours for being the best goalkeeper.
Malaysian Deaf Football Champion-ships chief executive officer Saiful Helmi Dzmani lauded the generous RM50,000 contribution by the Kelantan State Secretariat while Kota Baru Municipal Council provided transportation to officials and players.
He said despite an additional contribution of RM5,000 each from the Companies Commission of Malaysia and Kelantan Federal Development Department as well as sponsorship from Nestle Milo and Yakult Malaysia, they were still short of RM30,000 to fully cover expenses for the tournament.
Malaysian Deaf Sports Association president Ong Shin Ruenn said despite that, this year’s championship was the most well-organised edition yet with a total of nine teams, including Selangor, Perak, the Federal Territories, Johor and Melaka, taking part.
The state deaf sports associations in Penang, Perlis, Sarawak, Pahang and Kedah did not take part in the championships due to lack of funds.
Ong commended the organisers and winners, and encouraged the teams that did not win to strive harder and improve for the next edition.
He added that the championship was an important platform for deaf footballers to showcase their ability to the selection panel for the World Deaf Football Championships in South Korea in July next year.
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