FAM LEAGUE:Promotion hopes boosted after win over Penang
A MOTIVATED Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), who retained their Inter-University title recently, are now pushing for promotion from the FAM League.
UiTM closed in on their target when they edged Penang 1-0 in an ill-tempered match last weekend at the UiTM Stadium in Shah Alam.
Khairul Naim Mahyuddin latched on to a through ball before placing it past Penang goalkeeper Isyafrizaly Azizily in the 40th minute.
The league champions will gain automatic promotion while the runners-up will go through a play-off with the ninth, 10th and 11th placed teams in the Premier League.
The tense match nearly led to a free-for-all between the players and fans of both teams.
A foul on a UiTM player by Penang's Mohd Nizat Salleh triggered the hostile situation as the players were involved in a mild scuffle late in the second half.
Referee Zulkifli Ahmad flashed the red card to Mohd Nizat before he showed an obscene sign to UiTM fans, who were calling him names, before he entered the changing room.
UiTM captain Mohd Shafiq Mokhtar also conducted himself in a questionable manner as he harassed the Penang players but got off scot-free.
But UiTM were soon down to 10 players when their goal scorer Khairul Naim was dismissed minutes after the re-start for a second yellow card offence.
Penang and UiTM fans at the stadium's open terrace nearly got into a fight after the final whistle but the authorities managed to keep the situation under control.
UiTM and Shahzan Muda have each collected 25 points but the latter are second in the standings behind favourites Public Service Commission (SPA).
UiTM coach Azman Eusoff said his players played well to earn three points.
"It was a tough match but my team managed to focus on their game to claim victory," said Azman.
"We cannot afford to drop points at this stage as we need to fight on to leapfrog Shahzan for second position."
On the ugly incident during the match, Azman said it was unwarranted.
"Everyone should have kept their cool. I am angry with some of my players," he added.
Penang team manager Dr Azmi Abd Khan said his players were tired from the long bus journey a day before the match.
"We were just too tired after spending hours on the bus from Penang.
"Anyway nothing is over yet. We hope to win our remaining three matches," said Azmi.
SPA were held 1-1 by Shahzan in Temerloh last weekend. The league leaders led through Mohd Shafiq Mohd Zahari's first half strike before Shahzan levelled proceedings after the breather.
SPA need six points from their remaining three matches to secure the title and promotion to the Premier League next season.