Perak emerged as the 2012 President Cup champion for the first time in five years, after overcoming NS Betaria in the final clash at the Perak Stadium recently. After a gruelling campaign that lasted approximately five months, Nurridzuan Abu Hassan’s solitary goal was perfect enough to etch a fitting finale to their successful season.
So much had been said about Perak’s younger crop of players prior to the season, with many tipping against their chances of making history. Bigger soccer states like Kelantan and Terengganu were touted as favourites to take the title, but the Young Seladangs worked their guts out to come on top.
With Nurridzuan Abu Hassan back in the President Cup squad after a short foray in the senior team last year, Perak had a terrific start to their campaign. Six wins in their first seven matches allowed them to sit comfortably at the top of the Group B table, which included big names like Selangor and Terengganu.
Under the tutelage of Abu Bakar Fadzim, the President Cup squad maintained its composure, losing only twice throughout the group stage campaign. It garnered 58 points in the process, as they finished second in the group behind PKNS FC. Nevertheless, it was enough for them to book a quarter final tie against northern rival, Kedah.
In the last eight stage, Perak drew first blood by securing a 4-2 victory at home over the Canaries, giving them a much needed two-goal advantage before the return leg in Alor Star. Predictably, the Young Seladangs drew 2-2, thus securing their semi-final spot.
Abu Bakar’s men were paired against favourites Terengganu in the semi finals and it proved to be a battle of epic proportions. In the first leg at Kuala Terengganu, both sides came out firing on all cylinders, attempting to seize the early initiative. Both Perak and Terengganu wasted chance after chance and just when the match seemed destined to end scoreless, the Turtles seized a late winner to take home the advantage.
Perak’s Young Seladangs were far from done and dusted as they bounced back impeccably to beat them 2-0 in the second leg clash in Ipoh, advancing into the final on a 2-1 aggregate. It was a morale-boosting win that inspired the team heading into the final battle.
In what had been a terrific showcase of talent and capabilities from the Under-20 boys, the stage was set for them to make history in their very own fortress. Having said that, skipper Nurridzuan Abu Hassan netted the winning goal to seal a memorable victory over NS Betaria. The path to success was definitely tough, but these youngsters proved their worth for Perak.