IPOH: Hosts Perak can as good as kiss goodbye to their hopes of qualifying for the second round of the National Schools (MSSM) Football Championships after a 3-1 defeat by Penang in a Group C Under-18 match yesterday.
In fact, Perak did not deserve a place in the last eight, going by their performance.
They had been up against a 10-man Penang side after the islanders had their first choice goalkeeper Mohd Faizal Mohd Yusoff red carded at Anderson ground.
After an opening match goalless draw with unheralded Labuan, Perak now face the daunting task of overcoming group favourites Kelantan who have already booked their ticket after chalking up their second straight win. They whipped Labuan 3-0 at Padang Abdul Jalil.
Perak must now beat the East Coast boys and then wait for the outcome of the decider between Penang and Labuan.
Yesterday, Penang showing better teamwork and fluency, shocked the home team with two quick goals within a minute.
Mohd Amirul Omar put them 1-0 up in the 13th minute with a well executed attempt when he lobbed the ball over Perak goalkeeper Kamarul Effandi Rahim.
Before Perak could recover, Penang struck again a minute later.
Kamarul was again at fault. His weak push off a cross fell onto the path of Mohd Azrul Ahmad who gleefully tucked in.
In the 33rd minute, a long clearance from the Perak defence saw Faizal handling the ball outside the top of the penalty box when he was pressured by a Perak striker.
Referee Sani Tari of Sabah surprised the crowd when he gave the Penang custodian the marching orders instead of booking him.
From the ensuing freekick, Shahrizal Mohd Saad, younger brother of Perak's Premier 1 centreback Syamsul, scored with a stinging shot to reduce the deficit at 1-2.
With their hopes given a lifeline, Perak launched numerous raids from the centre but their forwards of Shahrizal, Rafi Ali and Saiful Izuan Alli lacked imagination and finishings.
In a quick counter-attack in the 45th minute, Penang put the issue beyond doubt.
Nippy S. Thinagaran broke down the right flank before squeezing the ball between the legs of the onrushing Kamarul.
While Kelantan were among the early qualifiers for a second round berth, Sabah were the first to pack off for home.
They were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Terengganu at the STAR B ground.
It was Sabah's second straight in the three-team Group A. They had lost 3-0 to favourites Selangor in their opening match on Friday.