BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The relegation battle of the 2019 Malaysia Super League is over, with Felda United the sole survivor thanks to a 5-1 thumping of Kedah at home on Sunday.
Beginning the day in the relegation zone in 11th place, the Fighters were vying for the 10th place and safety with PKNP FC, as well as last-placed Kuala Lumpur (KL).
Although their final matchday encounter was at home, it was against FA Cup finalists Kedah. Fortunately for them, the visitors head coach Aidil Sharin Sahak fielded mostly second stringers in Jengka, perhaps with the cup final next weekend in mind.
A free kick by Jocinei Schad in the sixth minute and Faiz Mazlan's 32nd minute goal after taking advantage of a defensive mistake put the hosts in the driving seat at the break. Jonatan Bauman pulled one back from the spot in the 77th minute, but the visitors could not do more after defender Renan Alves had been shown his second booking just minutes earlier. Strikes by Khairul Amri Kamal (85'), Jasazrin Jamaluddin (90+2') and Kei Ikeda (90+3') sealed the win for Nidzam Jamil's charges.
But the win alone would not have been enough to ensure another season in Malaysia's top tier for Felda United, had the result of the encounter between Petaling Jaya City (PJ) and PKNP did not go their way. And thankfully it did.
Washington Brandao did not miss from the spot in the 75th minute after a penalty was awarded to the hosts after a handball was committed, and the match ended in a 1-0 defeat to the visitors, who went down to 11th after the loss.
KL had needed a miracle in order to avoid relegation; in the form of an unlikely away win over the other FA Cup finalists Perak, and defeats to both Felda and PKNP. But in the end it was a bridge too far for the City Boys. A brace by Careca (31', 67') could only be met by Luke Woodland's 76th minute strike, and the 2-1 defeat meant that they finished the league campaign in bottom place, and without a spot in the Malaysia Cup later this season.
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