By Noor Farhan/Red Sports
ITE College East, Simei, Thursday, 17 March, 2011 — The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) made it through to the final of the Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Football Championship final after they defeated Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) on penalties. The game was tied 1-1 in regulation time and ITE won the penalty shootout 3-1.
ITE will meet Temasek Polytechnic for the chance to lift the S R Nathan Challenge Trophy after TP beat Republic Polytechnic 1-0 in another semi-final.
The first half of the clash between the two IVP football powerhouses was an all-NYP affair, as they sought to take the game to their opponents from the get-go.
Left midfielder Faris Haziq, who had an excellent game for NYP throughout, got the game’s first shot on goal at 7 minutes after a dribble down the flanks. His effort however, went wide off the right hand post of ITE goalie Khairul Annuar, who was alert to the cause and had his angles covered as he dived smartly.
It was a difficult first half for the home side, as it was NYP who got on the score sheet first. Irfan Mohamed Ghani’s header in the 43rd minute after a free kick from teammate Faris was enough to put the visitors 1-0 up, after he ghosted into the penalty area unmarked.
NYP started the second half the same way as the first, threatening to score again through the good combination play of Faris, Irfan and midfielder Matthew Abraham.
NYP’s almost paid the price of committing too many players forward when ITE missed two good chances. Nur Naiim’s shot in the 50th minute, followed by Zulkifli Suzliman’s counter attack from the left flank four minutes later, were both saved by the NYP custodian Lutfi Abdul Razak.
The NYP defence was soon breached on the hour mark by ITE’s Fadli Kamis, after a corner from the left went uncleared, allowing him to pounce on a rebound with a low shot past Lutfi for the equaliser.
A frantic scramble for the winner by both sides bore no returns as the game finished 1-1 at the final whistle.
With both sides equally matched at the end of extra time, it then came down to penalties to decide the outcome.
Both ITE and NYP missed their first attempts from the penalty spot, but it was Aqhari Abdullah who calmed ITE’s nerves with the second attempt, with his composed conversion putting his team in a temporary lead.
NYP’s Randy Pay stepped up for his team’s second, but his top corner attempt was miraculously palmed away by Khairul Annuar. Then Zulkifli Suzliman’s attempt for ITE’s winning goal was a weak one, with his bottom corner shot easily saved by NYP’s Lutfi.
It took Faris Haziq’s coolly taken spot kick to earn NYP’s first successful penalty as his side levelled 1-1.
ITE’s Zul Nor Farahin replicated Faris’ confidence to put his side up 2-1 with his grounder down the middle, but NYP’s Amirulbolkia was not so fortunate, with his powerful shot saved by the ever-alert Khairul Annuar.
ITE then celebrated when Afiq Mohamed Yahya’s effort rippled the back of the net to make it 3-1.
“Three of our Young Lions are away (in the UAE), so this was a somewhat depleted side for us. In fact, I had to shift some players, who were not playing in their normal positions,” said ITE coach Emran Yusoff, on the changes he made to his side for that game.
“In the first half, it was all Nanyang (Polytechnic). During half-time I remember telling the boys: ‘Play to the situation, (the) ground is wet. Don’t lose the ball unnecessarily’,” said coach Emran about his team’s tactics.
“I think in the second half we attacked more. As you can see, we took our chances when it came. When it went to penalties however, it all came down to luck,” he added.
NYP coach Sudiat was pleased with his side’s brave performance, but was left rueing what could have been.
“They had a busy (club) schedule, and I think they had a game just last Tuesday, for those of them in the Prime League. It’s no excuse though, as at the end of the day, the fact was we did not take our chances,” he said.
“In the first half, if we had scored two or three goals, it would have made a big difference,” he added, on how his team could have capitalised on their early dominance to win the game.