JOHOR will square off against five-time champions Kuala Lumpur in the final of the MHC-MILO- NSC-MOE National Under-14 tournament at the Seremban II Stadium today.
Johor beat Perak 3-2 to make their first appearance of the final, while Kuala Lumpur will be playing in their sixth consecutive final.
The defending champions disposed hosts Negri Sembilan 2-0 in the semis yesterday.
Johor took a 3-0 lead at halftime through goals from Shafiq Hassan (5th), Haikal Safaruddin (11th) and Amirul Firdaus (30th).
However, Perak reduced the gap in the 46th minute when Najmi Hayazi scored. And Najmi then made it 2-3 in the 57th minute and Perak were almost back in the match again.
But time ran out on Perak and Johor celebrated their first final appearance since 2007.
For hosts Negri, it was heartbreak despite dominating the match and they paid the price for poor finishing.
“It was a tough game and we took our chances well. The final is a different proposition altogether as we are always mindful of the fact that teams are after our scalp,” said KL coach Madzli Ikmar.
“We had a narrow escape against Negri and the second goal came at the right time. I dread to think what the consequences would have been had Negri netted the equaliser as they were growing in confidence.”
It was all Kuala Lumpur in the initial stages of the first half as Negri opted to play a two-man attack and depend on counter attacks.
But Negri started growing in confidence as the match progressed, enough to force three penalty corners but they failed to capitalise from the chances created.
They lost their skipper, Mahathir Rathuwan who picked up an injury towards the tailend of the half, while for Kuala Lumpur, Syafiq Ghani and Ahmad Hariz proved to be a handful for the Negri defenders.
Kuala Lumpur took the lead in the 41st minute off their fourth penalty corner when Fitri Khairul opted to take a direct hit instead of playing a set piece and the ball sailed past Negri custodian Amirul Hazim who until then had an outstanding match.
And Fitri put the result beyond doubt in the 64th minute as he weaved past two defenders before unleashing a reverse stick shot from the edge of the semi circle.
Semi-finals: Kuala Lumpur 2 Negri Sembilan 0, Johor 3 Perak 2.
TODAY: Final -- Kuala Lumpur v Johor (5pm); Third-Fourth: Negri Sembilan v Perak (3pm).