SHAH ALAM: Pahang kept their hopes of winning an automatic berth to next seasons eight-team Super League alive when they edged Selangor 2-1 in a Premier I match here last night.
The Elephants started the game in seventh spot and the win has boosted their chances of clinching a place among the top six teams in Premier I for a direct route to the Super League.
They got the job done early when international Mohamed Fadzli Shaari scored in the fifth minute. Former international Azizul Kamaluddin added the second in the 43rd minute.
Although defending Malaysia Cup champions Selangor narrowed the deficit through Jaafar Salleh in the 69th minute, it was not enough to prevent them from their fifth loss in a row. Selangor's other losses were inflicted by Sarawak (2-1), Kelantan (4-3), Perlis (4-1) and Terengganu (3-1).
The result also sees Selangor, having slid to 11th spot in the 13-team league, facing the real prospect of missing the playoffs to the Super League with just three matches remaining.
While the top six sides will receive automatic berths, the teams from seventh to 10th in Premier I will square off with the top four finishers from Premier II for the two remaining slots in the eighth-team Super League.
The Red Giants had trooped out with hopes of beating Pahang but their cause wasshattered by an early goal by Fadzli, who rose unchallenged to head home a freekick by Helton Soares from close range.
Selangor tried to stage a fightback but instead found themselves down by two goals after Azizul sent a cracking shot from the top of the box in the 43rd minute.
In their haste to reduce the deficit, Selangor left gaps at the back and could have been punished by Pahang had it not been for the fine handling of rookie goalkeeper Mohamed Faizal Rashid, the son of former international goalkeeper Rashid Hassan.
Despite Jaafar stabbing the ball home to cut Pahang's lead in the 69th minute, Selangor were unable to make further headway.