ALOR STAR (13 March 2011) – Terengganu raised the season-opening Charity Trophy in the Minister of Education League Cup (MELC) when they sensationally defeated reigning champions Kedah 2-1 at the Mini Stadium SMK Tengku Anum Tunku Abdul Rahman here yesterday.
The visitors sank the hosts hopes of a dream start in a four-minute blitz in the first half of a closely contested game.
Terengganu, represented by the SMK Bukit Nenas State Sports School, silenced the 2,000 home fans in the 22nd minute when striker Mohamad Zalanie Zakaria hit the mark after being set-up by the hardworking Mustaqim Hakimi Che Halim from the left.
Four minutes later, it was Mustaqim who doubled the score when he coolly pounced on a rebound from Kedah keeper Muhd Asri Muhamad who had pushed out a stinging close-range strike from Solahudin Mahmud.
Kedah, the defending league champions, were expected to continue from where they left off but that early brace from Terengganu left ruined their hopes of claiming the trophy. To their credit, Kedah, represented by SMK Tengku Anum, charged back after the break and
reduced the deficit in the 51st minute.
Lanky defender Mohd Yusri Mohd Farizat spotted a space through the wall of defenders and squeezed in a grounder that was beyond the reach of Muhamad Safwan Mohd Yusof.
The goal made up for the earlier miss, also from a freekick, when his thundering strike hit the crossbar in the 43rd minute.
Kedah continued to pile the pressure and could have levelled the score in the 54th minute but a crisp strike from Muhammad Azrie Reza Zamri was punched away by the Terengganu keeper.
Despite giving their best, Kedah failed to get the equaliser and had to settle for the silver
medal when referee Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh blew for the end of the game.
The opening match will set the ball rolling for this season’s Under-14 MELC which gets underway this weekend. Speaking at the opening ceremony and official launch of the MELC yesterday, Dato’ Abd Ghafar Mahmud, the Director-General of the Ministry of Education, said a total of 16 teams would participate this year.
The league, which will be played out on a home-and-away basis, will run throughout the
country until July.
He said that the league, which was started in 2008to provide the opportunity to the best young players throughout the country to play regularly in a highly competitive platform, was beginning to bear fruit.
“Many players from the MELC league have done well and are now playing in the Harimau A and B squads.”
He added that the ministry was spending RM1.7 million for the MELC and they had assistance from main sponsors 100PLUS, who have provided a substantial amount of cash and products. The league is also supported by the Football Association of Malaysia, who provide the referees, match officials and technical assistance.
Later, Dato’ Ghafar, along with Dato’ Kamal Harun, the National Corporate Affairs Manager of F&N Beverages Marketing Sdn Bhd, gave away the prizes to the winners.