Kelantan maintained their perfect start to the Super League season after a late Francis Doe goal allowed them to edge Sarawak 1-0 at the State Stadium in Kuching on Saturday night.
The Liberian striker struck for the Red Warriors in the 90th minute just when the game had seemed headed for a stalemate.
Lebanese forward Mohammed Ghaddar, who fired a brace in Kelantan’s 2-0 opening day victory over PKNS last week, was the architect of the goal. Collecting a through ball from his skipper Mohd Badri Radzi, Ghaddar held off Ronny Harun before squaring the ball for Doe to tap in from close range.
Sarawak were the early aggressors but they had to wait until the 22nd minute before registering their first shot at goal. Serbian striker Milorad Janjus unleashed a long-range shot but it went straight into Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat’s arms.
The fast-running Sarawak attackers gave the Kelantan defenders a torrid time. Asri Chuchu managed to beat the offside trap in the 24th minute but was thwarted by Zairul Fitree’s last-ditch tackle.
Kelantan also had a narrow escape a few minutes later with Obinna Nwaneri clearing the ball off his own line after national goalkeeper Khairul had failed to clear a corner.
Khairul was beaten two minutes before half-time by a volley from Sarawak skipper Joseph Kallang Tie. But to Sarawak’s disappointment, the effort was chalked off for offside.
Kelantan’s best chance of the first half fell to Doe. Despite being unmarked in front of goal, he headed the ball straight at goalkeeper Sani Anuar.
Doe did put the ball in the Sarawak net nine minutes into the second half, but the Liberian was ruled offside.
Sarawak again held the initiative in the second period but failed to create any clear-cut scoring opportunities.
And the Crocs were made to pay for their profligacy when Doe struck in the final minute of regulation time.
At the Perak Stadium in Ipoh, the home side relied on a 90th minute winner from Eliel Guardiano to stun Terengganu 1-0. It was Perak’s first win of the campaign.