DEFENDING champions Terengganu suffered a big setback in their bid for a fourth Malaysia Games football gold medal when hosts Pahang beat them 3-0 in a Group A match at DarulMakmur Stadium yesterday.
All the goals came in the second half.
It could have been far worse for Terengganu had it not been for some splendid saves by Muhammad Izzuddin Muhamat Hussin. who denied Pahang's dangerman Mohd Shafie Zaharie on numerous occasions, but nonetheless scored twice.
Both teams struggled for early possession but the hosts nearly opened accounts in the fifth minute when skipper Abdul Malik Mat Arif's close range effort was palmed away by Muhammad Izzuddin.
Minutes later, Terengganu midfielder Syed Sobri Syed Mohd almost silenced the 2,000-odd home fans when he caught Pahang keeper Khairul Nidzam Mohammad Noor off his line.
However, his shot from 30 metres went inches above the bar.
Pahang looked more dangerous after the break and their hard work paid off when Mohd Shafie broke the deadlock 11 minutes into the half with a powerful left-footer.
Muhammad Izzuddin was beaten for a second time when Pahang captain Abdul Malik slotted home from close range in 72nd minute.
The champions were still recovering from the shock when they were hit yet again. Mohd Shafie collected a well-executed through ball from Abdul Malik and cooly placed it beyond the Terengganu keeper.
Pahang ended the match with 10 players after defender, Mohamad Firdaus Anuar was red-carded for a foul on an opponent.
Pahang coach, Bahazenan Osman said: "It is a result every coach would dream about. Three crucial points against Terengganu is a perfect start for us."
In an earlier match, 2010 runners-up Selangor beat Johor 4-1. In Group C, Maxsius Musa scored deep into injury time to give Sabah a 2-1 win over Perlis who had earlier scored through Mohammad Nazmee Ari in the first half before Sabah drew level through Mohd Adiafandi Dullah.
RESULTS: Johor 1 Selangor 4, Brunei 1 Kedah 1, Perlis 1 Sabah 2, Pahang 3 Terengganu 0, Sarawak 1 Penang 0, Kelantan 1 FT 2, Malacca 0 Negri 1.
TOMORROW: FT v Malacca (8am), Negri v Kelantan (8am), Terengganu v Sarawak (8am), Pahang v Penang (4.45pm), Perak v Johor (4.45pm), Kedah v Perlis (4.45pm), Sabah v Brunei(4.45pm).
(All matches at Kuantan Municipal Council grounds and DarulMakmur Stadium). By T.N,. Alagesh