Defending Malaysia Cup champions Kelantan put one foot in this year’s final after claiming a 2-1 win over ATM in the first leg of their last-four clash on Friday evening.
(ATM: D. Christie Jayaseelan 19′ | KEL: Badhri Radzi 15′; Norfarhan Muhammad 77′)
The Red Warriors edged ahead in the 15th minute when Badhri Radzi lashed home a powerful effort from the edge of the box, after Farizal Harun had denied Norfarhan Muhammad in a one-on-one situation.
However, it took ATM just four minute to pull level when D. Christie Jayaseelan pounced on a loose ball outside the area and skipped around a couple of opponents, before expertly drilling a shot into the bottom corner.
Fitri Omar then spurned a good chance to put the Armed Forces ahead four minutes before the break when he could only prod the ball wide of the far post after being picked out by Bruno Martelotto’s right-wing cross, and he was wasteful again in the 52nd minute when he missed the target from 14 yards out after being left unmarked.
Kelantan were also guilty of failing to take their chances, especially in the 71st minute when Dickson Nwakaeme charged down the right and into the area before seeing his shot kept out by Farizal with his foot, before Norfarhan’s follow-up effort was blocked right on the line by K. Reuben.
But 13 minutes time, the visitors grabbed the winner when Norfarhan decisively capitalised on an error by Irwan Fadzli Idrus after the left-back had cleared the ball straight into him, bursting into the box before coolly placing the ball into the back of the net.
ATM will be hoping to reverse the deficit – and avenge their defeat to the Red Warriors in last year’s final – when both sides meet again at the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium in next Friday’s return encounter.
The other semi-final, which kicks off on Saturday, sees Pahang take on Sarawak.
ATM: Farizal Harun, K. Reuben, Norfazly Alias, Shukor Adan, Irwan Fadzli Idrus, Fitri Omar, Affize Faisal, Bruno Martelotto, D. Christie Jayaseelan, Hairuddin Omar, Marlon Alex James.
Kelantan: Khairul Fahmi, Farisham Ismail, Azizi Matt Rose, Obinna Nwaneri, Zairul Fitree Ishak, Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Shakir Shaari, Badhri Radzi, Zairo Anuar Zalani, Norfarhan Muhammad, Dickson Nwakaeme.