Penang Black Panthers edged Malacca Green Titans 2-1to register their second consecutive win in the SepakTakraw League Malaysia2015 (STL Malaysia) at the Sports Arena in Petaling Jaya on Saturday.
The Penang outfit, who had defeated Kelantan’s Gomo Warriors 2-1 last weekend, picked the first point through the regu of Noor Azman Abdul, Solehin Samsudin and Anas Muhaimin who brushed aside Zainurin Daud, Ridzuan Azman and Azwan Yahya 21-13, 21-10 in less than 35 minutes.
Former national player Fazil Asri than led the Black Panthers second regu comprising Anuar Samsudin and Fadzil Mustafa to a hard-fought 25-24win over Khobil Sepair, Zarlizan Zakaria and Amirul Asyraf Idris before closing home the second set 21-15 to give his side a comfortable 2-0 overall lead.
Green Titans, however, clawed back in the third regu to salvage some pride in their 21-19, 17-21 and 22-20 triumph over Black Panthers. The trio of Hasrul Anuar, Hasif Yusof and Shelpul Saad took 74 minutes tocrush any hopes Said Eswan, Suhairi Sulaiman and Kamal Ishak had of a Black Panthers clean run.
“This season we are faced with very competitive teams who have an equally balanced line-up. At the end of the day, it all boils down to luck and determination to win,” said Fazil, who quit the national team after the recent Singapore SEA Games in June.
“Two wins in two matches is a good start. But we have three more tough matches ahead against City Flyers, East Coast Surfers and Armed Forces. I want my players to stay focused and continue this momentum. Nothing is impossible even against the best team if we put our heart, mind and commitment into the game,” he added.
It was Green Titans third defeat in two weeks, having succumbed to a 0-3 loss to Armed Forces and 1-2 against Kuala Lumpur City Flyers and Black Panthers respectively.
Green Titans remaining matches are against Terengganu East Coast Surfers (Nov 1), Southern Tigris (Nov 15) and Gomo Warriors on Nov 22. The semi-finals will be held on Dec 12 and final the following day.
In another tie, Armed Forces were involved in a three-set thriller against Kelantan’s Gomo Warriors before pulling through 2-1 in a match that lasted one hour and 45 minutes.
Gomo Warriors’ Hisham Mat, Malek Faqimi Ideris and Yuslie Md Jusoff crawled to a 21-13, 21-17 win in the opening regu against Tunku Azwari Tunku, Faizzul Abdul Razak and Fadzil Baharuddin but ATM won the second and third regu in a nail biting finish for their second victory in the league.
The Kelantan outfit once again caused some ripples when the second regu of Sulaiman Saleh, Saufi Salleh and Aiman Fouzi took the first set 21-18 but allowed ATM’s Zulfikar Mat Amin, Nazuha Nadzli and Khairudin Adenan to win the second set 21-13 and third 21-12 in a 72-minute duel.
In the decider, it was ATM’sthird regu trio who claimed a 21-9, 21-18 comfortable win to stay in the hunt for a semi-finals berth.
Kuala Lumpur City Flyers, Black Panthers and Armed Forces are tied on four-equal points after two rounds with Johore’s Southern Tigris in fourth position in the league table standings.
“We lost to a team that was far more accomplished and made fare less errors at the net,” said Green Titans coach, Najib Iman. “However, I am still confident of Green Titans making inroads in the league and we are determined to do that in our next matches. Overall we had a good game today and all is not over yet.”
In tomorrow’s matches, high flying Kuala Lumpur City Flyers go into action against Johor’s Southern Tigrislooking for their third consecutive win in the tournament while ATM faces Black Panthers and East Coast Surfers take on Kedah’s Northern Rangers.