Football: Kuantan on the rise

A Malacca and a Young Tigers C player vie for the ball in their FAM League match in Bangi last weekend.

KUALA LUMPUR - Kuantan FA, a development side for the Pahang state team, have emerged as the leading contenders to earn Premier League promotion next season as they now lead the FAM League after last weekend's proceedings.

Hamzah Mat Yunus's men recorded their second straight victory by edging Cebagoo 1-0 at Penampang Stadium, to open up a five-point lead in the league.

Cebagoo were better but wasteful against a defensive Kuantan. Kamal Rodiajat Md Ali turned hero for Kuantan, netting from a free kick in the 47th minute to earn their sixth win of the season.

"It was a close match. We played a patient game and relied on counter-attacks throughout the match. Kamal's free kick took a lucky deflection into the net. I am happy with the win," said Hamzah recently.

"We may have opened up a five-point lead but I have told my players not to take things for granted. We need to maintain our consistency and win every match."

Being a development side, Pahang FA (PFA) may not want them to play in the Premier League if they gain promotion next season due to budget constraints. Kuantan's main priority in the league is to develop players for the state team.

Young Tigers C, comprising the national Under-18 players, caused a major upset by overcoming title contenders Malacca 2-1 in Bangi.

Malacca started well and scored through Rahim Abu Bakar in the third minute.

However, Tigers C bounced back in the second half and replied through Muhammad Alif Haikal (56th minutes) and Sean Eugene Selvaraj (70th).

A 1-1 draw with Sungai Ara at the USM Stadium in Georgetown extended Kuala Lumpur's winless run to five matches, during which they have scored just twice.

After winning their first four games, KL have run out of steam with coach Tang Siew Seng hoping new signing Pritam Singh will breathe new life into their faltering title challenge.

Pritam, who played for KL in the 2012 Super League, could feature against Yayasan Bina Upaya tomorrow if registered in time after the FAM League's transfer window opened on Thursday.

The winger was released by Premier League side Sabah last month, having also played for T-Team last year.

KL struggled against a Sungai Ara side reduced to 10 men in the 28th minute following Mahathir Muhamad's sending off.

The home side took a surprise lead through Izaidi Musa five minutes after half-time and it was not until 10 minutes from time that substitute Fitri Kamal equalised for KL.

"I am disappointed with the referee's performance as Sungai Ara were very physical and the decisions were not going our way.

"Some players have just returned from injury and are not fit. I hope we can register Pritam in time for Sunday," said Siew Seng.