Serdang (27 November, 2016): ATM Guardians came close to ending Terengganu Turtles perfect record in the Ekspres Perdana Sepak Takraw League (STL) 2016 only to fall under pressure in the later stages, losing 2-1 in their match at the Serdang Jaya Municipal Council Stadium, today.
In a tight encounter between both teams, the match was filled with non-stop action and tremendous intensity with both teams on separate mission. Turtles were hoping to extend their perfect record in the league while Guardians were hoping to be the first team to defeat the league leaders.
The last time both these sides met in the reverse fixture, Turtles stormed to an easy 2-0 win to inflict the Guardians’ fourth defeat of the season.
However, Guardians were not about to let Turtles take them for a walk in the park again as they played their best game of the season so far which showed glimpses of why they were crowned champions last season.
Turtle’s trio Zulkifli Razak (tekong), Azwan Muhrim (feeder) and Kamal Alfiza Shafie (striker) were stunned in the first set when Guardians stormed to an early lead and dominated throughout to win 21-13.
In the second set, Guardians again started on top with Turtles committing service errors early on. However, Turtles mental strength and fighting spirit helped them come back into the match after trailing for the most part of it to win 21-18, thus showing why they deserved to occupy top spot currently.
The tie-breaker saw both teams play catch up with each other just before Guardians trio Nazmi Najib (tekong), Norfaizzul Razak (feeder) and Afiffudin Razali (striker) were found guilty of committing a few errors plus the intensity of the nearly 2,000 crowd (mostly Turtles’ fans) got to them as they bowed out with a 21-18 defeat.
Turtles already assured of a play-off spot and with one hand on the title, will only hope that they can preserve and extend this record (11 wins out of 11 matches, currently) till the end of the STL 2016 as they look forward to go down the record books of Malaysian sports with the longest winning streak in a single season.
The day’s second match saw Penang Black Panthers crush Kuala Lumpur Thunder’s dreams of levelling on points with them after a 2-0 victory to ensure they put the city boys behind on third place, with difference of 2 points.
Panther’s trio Syahir Rosdi (tekong), Zaim Razali (feeder) and Azlan Alias (striker) went behind early on in the first set to Thunder’s trio Farid Aziz (tekong), Amirul Zazwan Amir (feeder) and Hafiz Rahman (striker) before powering back to win 21-18 in the first set and repeating the same score line in the second set to stay behind Turtles by 6 points with one game in hand.
Panthers next face up with Turtles in one of the most anticipated match of the tournament, on Friday (December 2). The last time both these sides met, Turtles strolled to a 2-1 victory.
Sunday (27 November 2016):
Ekspres Perdana Sepak Takraw League (STL):
Terengganu Turtles bt ATM Guardians 2-1 (13-21, 21 – 18, 21 – 18)
Penang Black Panthers bt Kuala Lumpur Thunder 2-0 (21-18, 21-18)
* Serdang Jaya Municipal Council Stadium, Selangor