KLANG: Former champions Selangor and Perak kept up the hunt for a place in the final of the 100 Plus Razak Cup hockey tournament with contrasting wins at the Pandamaran Hockey Stadium yesterday.
Selangor, nine-time winners of the trophy, had an easier time beating Pahang 3-1 in the morning but Perak had to slog for their 3-2 win over a young and tenacious Armed Forces side.
The two teams now have four points from two matches. Johor still head this Division One table with six points.
Malacca have three points and are still in the running for a final berth.
The title race will become a lot clearer today when the top four teams meet each other. Malacca will play Selangor at 3.00pm while Perak and Johor will clash later.
Yesterday, Selangor played with more urgency with their forwards showing better co-ordination.
They took the lead in the 11th minute with Mohamed Syayrim Uda Karim scoring with a field goal from close range. Two minutes later Mohamed Redza Maadun netted the second in a quick counter attack to put Selangor in command.
Pahang reduced the deficit in the 21st minute through Al Aman Mustafa but failed to keep up the pressure on Selangor.
Instead it was Selangor who went further ahead Redza's brother Faisal made it 3-1 in the 51st minute from a field attempt to give Selangor a comfortable win.
The afternoon heat made the Perak-Armed Forces match a drab affair. Only some timely moves in the D brought in the goals in a tie marred by poor passing from both teams.
Perak were lucky to take the lead in the seventh minute. From a free hit taken out side the D by K. Gobinathan the ball sailed through a sea of legs into goal. The umpire blew for a goal signalling that Perak's Azli Misron had touched the ball although the Forces players claimed otherwise.
The goal stood and in the 33rd minute Perak scored their second goal through Mohamed Riduan Nasir from a penalty stroke.
A penalty stroke awarded to Armed Forces in the 39th minute saw skipper Azli Punggut converting to reduce the deficit.
Perak made it 3-1 from a penalty corner in the 41st minute. The first shot taken by Gobinathan hit Forces goalkeeper Mohamed Ridwan Azam on the throat and laid sprawl on the ground, the former slotted in the rebound.
Ridwan was immediately taken to the hospital for treatment.
Armed Forces managed to reduce the deficit in the 60th minute through Husaini Ali and then went about desperately in search of the equaliser.
It never came, thanks to Perak stout defenders and Perak walked away with full points.
Forces' coach Nasir Mydin said they are not sure about the injury to goalkeeper Ridwan but said he will be warded for a day or two.
“We will go to the hospital and find out later. For the moment we will carry on with our second goalkeeper (Ghulam Rasul Yusof). We made too many errors in the game and let in some soft goals.
“Still we gave our best and will keep on trying to win a match in the tournament,” said Nasir whose team lost 0-7 to Johor on Saturday.
In Division Two, Terengganu are virtually in the final after scoring their third victory in as many matches. Yesterday they defeated Penang 3-1 and now lead the standings.
Negri kept pace with Terengganu when they defeated Singapore 3-0 in night match. They have seven points from three matches.
They can seal a place in the final if they beat either Terengganu or Police in their last two ties. Today is a rest day for the Division Two teams.