SUPERB:Pahang team pull off dramatic fightback to defend crown
DEFENDING champions Pusat Kutipan Zakat Pahang (PKZP) staged a dramatic comeback to edge hosts Pusat Pungutan Zakat (PPZ) 3-2 in the final of the Zakat Cup badminton championships on Sunday.
PPZ, featuring in their first final since 2002, looked set to bag their first ever crown when they raced off to a 2-0 lead after taking both the opening singles matches at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium.
Mohd Nor Khairul Fadillah Sidek notched a 18-21, 21-18, 21-18 win over PKZP's Al-Imran Md Saad in the opening singles match while Mohd Anuar Suleiman delivered PPZ's second point with a 21-12, 21-13 victory over Mohd Ezani Mohd Kasim.
The doubles, however, was clearly a strong point for PKZP which allowed them to claw their way back into the tie.
Zainal Man-Zafridin Mohd Daud opened account with a straightforward 21-11, 21-14 win over PPZ duo Mohd Shafiq Abdullah-Muhd Hazwan Mohd Taib.
Zahwawi Wahab-Hishamudin Abd Hamid then brought PKZP level at 2-2 when they brushed off Azman Suleiman-Azhan Ismail 21-15, 21-16 to set up a mouth-watering decider.
Wan Mohd Napi Wan Sulaiman-Jamari Abd Hamid emerged heroes for PKZP in the deciding match when they won a tough three-set battle 21-14, 15-21, 21-15 against Mohd Sofizal-Firdaus Mohd Karim to seal the title for PKZP.
The win is PKZP's fifth after also taking the title in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2010.
PKZP manager Zulrafaee Abdul Hamid said the dramatic manner in which his charges took the title made it the most memorable of their five titles so far.
"There really is no way to hide the joy we feel right now after such a tough final," said Zulrafee.
"We knew they would have very strong singles players and had beforehand understood the importance of the doubles matches for us.
"I really must praise my players for keeping their cool, especially after we went 2-0 down early in the final. They had delivered as planned."
Zulrafee added that the triumph was a just reward for his players who had trained hard in the month leading to the final which included a week of centralised training held in Kuantan, Pahang.
PPZ manager Nor Mukshar Harun said he was happy with his team's performances despite their agonising defeat.
"Our target was to make the semi-finals but not only did we make the final but we also gave them (PKZP) a very hard time before going down," said Nor Mukshar.
"We are disappointed to lose today (Sunday) but I think the boys are satisfied with our run here overall as they really left it all on the court.
"We will look to build on this result and will hopefully come back stronger in 2014."
This year, two Indonesian teams -- Badan Zakat Nasional and Dhompet Dhuafa -- also competed in the tournament.
Kedah placed third in the team event after they won the playoff match against Dhuafa 3-2.
The tournament, which was first held in 2002, is intended to promote healthy living among Zakat centre staff around the country as well as help promote closer relations between the various centres across the nation.