Johor booked a place in the final of the MHC-MILO- NSC-MOE National Under 14 tournament against defending champions Kuala Lumpur after they defeated Perak 3-2 at the Seremban Two Hockey Stadium.
It is the southern state’s first appearance in the final of the Under 14 while it will be the city side’s sixth consecutive appearance. And they won the last five editions of the Under 14 tournament.
Johor took a 3-0 lead at halftime through goals from Muhammad Shafiq Hassan (5th minute), Muhammad Haikal Safaruddin (11th minute) and Mohd Amirul Firdaus Shamsuddin (30th minute).
Perak reduced the deficit in the 46th minute when Muhammad Najmi Hayazi scored. And Najmi added another for Perak in the 57th minute to make it 2-3 and Perak were with a chance.
But time ran out on Perak and Johor celebrated their first final appearance since 2007.
For hosts Negri, it was heartbreak despite dominating large portions of the match and they paid the price for woeful finishing.
“It was a tough game and we took our chances well. The final is a different proposition altogether as we are always mindful of the fact that teams are after our scalp,” said KL coach Mohd Madzli Ikmar.
“We had a narrow escape against Negri and the second goal came at the right time. I dread to think what the consequences would have been had Negri netted the equaliser as they were growing in confidence.”
It was all Kuala Lumpur in the initial stages of the first half as Negri opted to play a two-man attack and depend on counter attacks.
But Negri started growing in confidence as the match progressed, enough to force three penalty corners but they failed to capitalise from the chances created.
They lost their skipper, Mahathir Rathuwan through injury towards the tailend of the half while for Kuala Lumpur’s Muhd Syafiq Abd Ghani Syah and Ahmad Hariz Syazani Ezani were proving to be a handful for the Negri defence.
Kuala Lumpur took the lead in the 41st minute when off their fourth penalty corner Muhammad Fitri Khairul Ariffin opted to take a direct hit instead of playing a set piece. And the ball sailed past Negri custodian Muhd Amirul Hazim Rashid who until then had an outstanding match.
Negri then took control of the match but failed to make use of the chances created, even missing 4 penalty corners and sitters att times.
And Fitri put the result beyond doubt in the 64th minute as he weaved past two defenders before unleashing a reverse stick hit from the edge of the semi circle.
Semi Final Results
Kuala Lumpur 2 Negri Sembilan 0
Johor 3 Perak 2
1500H – 3/4 Placing
Negri Sembilan v Perak
1700H – Final
Kuala Lumpur v Johor