PETALING JAYA: Penang are out of this year’s Malaysia Cup after falling to the bottom of the Super League standings at the halfway mark of the season.
A 2-1 loss to league leaders Felda United at the City Stadium on Wednesday, coupled with Sarawak’s 3-2 victory over Perak in Kuching, condemned the Panthers to the bottom spot for the first time this season.
Under new competition rules, the bottom-placed team at the league’s halfway mark will sit out the Malaysia Cup.
In an attempt to boost the support for the home team, free tickets were distributed to Penang fans to fill up the terraces.
Although the boisterous support had an effect on the Panthers in the early stages, Felda still proved too strong in the end.
Felda took the lead in the 31st minute. Francis Doe displayed some fancy footwork to leave Penang defender Brent Griffiths in his wake, but saw his attempt cannon off goalkeeper Sani Anuar Kamsani. The rebound fell to Hadin Azman on the left edge of the box, and the midfielder’s cross was swept into the net from close range by Doe.
There was more woe for Penang at the hour mark when Hadin got on to the end of a Lutfullah Turaev free-kick to send a firm header towards goal. Sani got a palm to the ball but could only divert it to the roof of his net.
Penang pulled a goal back through a Reinaldo Lobo penalty in the final minute, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
At the State Stadium in Kuching, Sarawak moved away from the bottom of the 12-team league and booked their berth in the Malaysia Cup following a 3-2 win over Perak.
Perak’s Brazilian centreback Thiago Junior ended up as the villain after scoring a late own goal in the 81st minute to hand Sarawak their second win of the season.
Earlier, the Crocs had raced ahead through Ndumba Makeche in the 11th minute before Gilmar Filho doubled the lead in the 48th minute. But the Seladang fought back through Mohd Fazrul Hazli in the 26th minute and Fernandes Elias’ spot-kick in the 71st minute.
In Johor Baru, defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) beat Pahang 3-0 at the Larkin Stadium to send the Elephants to 11th spot in the standings.
JDT got their goals through Argentinian striker Juan Lucero (61st and 64th minutes) and midfielder Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal (54th).
Despite the loss, Pahang still qualified for the Malaysia Cup.
The top 11 teams from the Super League will be accompanied by the five Premier League teams – Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan, JDT II and PKNS FC – in the Malaysia Cup, which will begin in July.
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