Johor defeated Selangor 1-0 in the National Under 21 Tournament at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru to book a spot in the semifinals as Group A champions.
And a last minute penalty stroke conversion by Pahang gave them a 1-0 win over Negri Sembilan and more importantly a place in the semifinals tomorrow.
Johor needed a draw while Selangor would have needed an outright win if Pahang defeated Negri Sembilan.
And in the end is was a tale of missed chances that cost Selangor a win. Infact their match against Johor finished a minute earlier then the Pahang/NS clash and the Selangor players were silently celebrating the draw on the adjacent pitch.
“We were fortunate as Selangor played a much better game and missed so many chances in the final 15 minutes of the match,” said Johor coach Chairil Anwar Abdul Aziz.
“My players were too nervous after taking the lead and were looking at defending the lead rather then taking the game to the opponents.
“Still making the semis is a welcome relief and we await our opponents. Frankly at this stage it does not matter who your opponents are for we have to raise our game in order to make the final.”
Having absorbed the early Selangor forays, Johor became more confident, relying on short passes to gain ground.
But it was as a result of a long overhead pass out of defence by Mohd Nor Hafiq Abdul Ghaffar that resulted in Johor’s opening goal.
His pass found Mohd Ismat Imadi Mohd in the opponents 25 and he in turn laid up a pass for Mohd Fariq Saadon who hit an unstoppable shot into the roof of the goal, leaving Selangor keeper Azzrul Fahmy Zakaria rooted.
Both teams were too cautious in their approach in the first half and as a result no penalty corners were awarded.
In the second half Selangor forced a penalty corner in the 40th minute Mohd Noor Faeez Ibraham was denied by a spectacular save by Johor custodian Mohd Hairi Abdul Rahman.
Eight minutes later it was the upright that denied Selangor an equalizer as the attempt by Faeez hit the post and bounced out of play.
The Pahang/Negri match was heading to a draw but Pahang were awarded a penalty corner just before the hooter went. And from the resulting penalty corner the attempt by Nor Nashriq Farhan hit Negri defender M. Shashoban on the body, resulting in a penalty stroke.
Mohd Aminuddin Abu, the younger brother of former international Ismail Abu, converted the penalty stroke to send Pahang into the last eight.
“We though we had blown our chances as we missed so many chances to score and frustration crept into the team, “ said Pahang coach Mohd Yazid Yunus.
“But we were fortunate the get that last gasp goal and now look forward to the semis with renewed enthusiasm.
“It is 70 minutes that separates us from a place in the final and we will give it our best shot.”
Negri Sembilan 0
Pitch 1 – Kuala Lumpur v Perak
Pitch 2 – Penang v Malacca
P W D L G A PTS
Johor 3 2 1 0 7 1 7
Pahang 3 1 2 0 4 3 5
Selangor 3 1 1 1 6 6 4
N. Sembilan 3 0 0 3 3 10 0
P W D L G A PTS
Perak 2 1 0 1 5 4 3
Malacca 2 1 0 1 3 3 3
K. Lumpur 2 1 0 1 2 2 3
Penang 2 1 0 1 3 4 3
Fixtures : Saturday
1700H - 5/6th Placing : Selangor v XXXX – Pitch 2
1700H – Semi Final : Johor v XXXX – Pitch 1
1900H – 7/8th Placing: Negri Sembilan v XXXX – Pitch 2
1900H – Semi Final : Pahang v XXXX – Pitch 1