While many were expecting Kelantan to win for a fairy tale like season ending final, it was Negeri Sembilan who walked away with the prestigious Malaysia Cup after an exiciting match at the National Stadium, Saturday night.
Negeri Sembilan beat Kelantan 3-1 to end its 61 year wait. The last time Negeri Sembilan tasted victory was in 1948 when the trophy was known as the H.M.S. Malaya Cup.
The 'underdog' status clearly was not reflected in the game put up by the squad led by Wan Jamak Wan Hassan when they opened accounts as early as the 18th minute.
Shahurain Abu Samah sent a powerful shot in the penalty box which beat Kelantan goalie, Mohd Halim Napi after an error by defender Mohd Zamri Ramli that sent the approximately 15,000 Negeri Sembilan supporters into frenzy.
Stunned by the goal, Kelantan raised the level of their game in front of at least 70,000 of their supporters by launching several raids that failed to break through the opponents' defence led by Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak and Mohd Syukor Adan.
Negeri Sembilan too had several opportunities to widen their scoreline through Hairuddin Omar, who was on loan from T-Team, who had at least three chances to score but was foiled by Mohd Halim, and the 1-0 score ramained at half-time.
In the second half, the 'Red Warriors' substituted two of their strikers, Horhisham Hassan and Mohd Nizad Ayub with Che Hishammuddin Hassan and Mohd Khalis Jamlus, who were more experienced.
However, Negeri Sembilan appeared to be the more fierce side with Hairuddin scoring the second goal in the 46th minute after breaking free from the Kelantan defence.
In the 58th minute, Negeri Sembilan confirmed their victory when national striker Mohd Zaquan converted a penalty kick after Shahurain was brought down in the box.
The goal prompted a large section of the Kelantan supporters to leave the stadium with some of them burning flags, banners, chairs and letting off firecrackers.
The Red Warriors' lethal striker, Indra Putra Mahayuddin eventually scored for Kelantan in the 93rd minute (extra time) after taking the free kick from outside the penalty box, thus emerging as the top scorer in the Malaysia Cup series with 11 goals.
Yang Dipertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir, and the Regent of Kelantan, Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra Sultan Ismail Petra and Tengku Temenggong Kelantan, Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Petra Sultan Ismail Petra were also at the stadium to watch the final.
Commenting on the match, Wan Jamak said the early goal was certainly needed by any team playing in the final and Shahurain succeeded in achieving it.
"The goal would determine the direction of the team and could immediately change their rhythm of play," he told reporters after the match.
The former national coach said the Negeri Sembilan players had proven that they had the resilience and mental strength to face the thousands of their opponents' supporters.
"I was certainly confident of victory based on the previous matches played by the team in the Malaysia Cup competition but I did not want to be over-confident," he said, adding that he was proud of the Negeri Sembilan record as the only team who had never lost in the Malaysia Cup matches.
Meanwhile, Kelantan coach B.Sathinathan said the second goal scored by Negeri Sembilan had broken the spirit of his players.