| Fadhil Yunus |
WIJAYA FC made it a four-horse race for the DST Super League title after battling through a hard-fought 4-3 win over Kota Ranger FC at the Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex last night.
Wijaya needed a victory to keep in touch with the more favoured title contenders MS ABDB and Indera SC and enhance their prospects of pursuing an unlikely title campaign.
Wijaya bounced back from their defeat to MS ABDB but Kota Ranger FC were worthy opponents of derailing their title hopes.
Pengiran Anaqi Sufi bin Pengiran Haji Omar Baki took advantage of the chaotic defending and lobbed the ball to provide Wijaya the breakthrough in the 14th minute.
Kota Ranger nearly made an instant reply through a set-piece but a header somehow cleared the bar much to the Wijaya goalkeeper’s relief.
The second half witnessed four goals in a space of nine minutes with Kota Ranger briefly holding Wijaya, who escaped by retaking the lead.
Wijaya forward Pengiran Anaqi Sufi doubled the lead with barely a minute of the second half elapsed but Kota Ranger clawed their way back twice in successive attacks.
Muhd Afi bin Aminuddin reduced the deficit in the 50th minute before Muhd Fathurrahman bin Embran drew Kota Ranger level a minute later.
But Wijaya regained the lead in the 54th minute through captain Marhazif bin Ahad as the second half began with goals galore.
Abd Hakim bin Md Musliano threatened to add a fourth for Wijaya after curling his shot wide.
Wijaya defender Noorzaimin bin Zaini rescued his team after clearing a goal-bound effort by Khalil bin Saab off the line.
Pengiran Anaqi Sufi unleashed a 25-yard wonder strike to complete his hat-trick four minutes from time and consequently put his side within touching distance of victory.
However, Kota Ranger’s hopes of getting a point were renewed after Mohd Esmendy bin Brahim converted a penalty in the 90th minute.
But, Wijaya held on and joined fourth-placed Kasuka on 21 points in the quest for an unlikely title having played a game more than league leaders MS ABDB.