Negeri Sembilan defeated Selangor 3-1 to emerge the inaugural winners of the Harmony Football Cup tournament that aims to foster unity among youth, reports Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia.
National football legend Santokh Singh presented the trophy to the home team after the final at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia in Nilai.
The semi-finals and final were held on 19 March 2017 following group stage matches the previous day. Four states – Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang and Kuala Lumpur – had managed to advance to the semi-finals. Johor, Kedah and Perak were eliminated in the group stage.
In a semi-final tie, Selangor drew 1-1 with Penang 1-1 but prevailed 3-2 in a penalty shootout to advance to the final against Negeri Sembilan, who beat Kuala Lumpur 2-0 in another semi-final.
In the match for third place, Penang scraped past Kuala Lumpur 2-1 on penalties following a goalless draw.
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The first ever Harmony Football Cup, with the theme “Let’s Play Together, Live Together”, was initiated by Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM).
The national level tournament was jointly coordinated by Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (Ikram), the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH), the Tamil Foundation and the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST).
The tournament aimed to build friendship among youth from the various ethnic communities and to promote better interaction and understanding among them through the most popular game among Malaysians – football.
What was unique was that all participating football teams were required to have players from at least three ethnic groups in Malaysia and no more than six players were allowed to come from a single ethnic group.
The tournament was sponsored by Sahajidah Hai-O Marketing Sdn Bhd.
Three football legends – Datuk Santokh Singh, Datuk Soh Chin Aun and Datuk Shukor Salleh – added a touch of glitter as the honorary patrons of the tournament, posing for photos after the matches.
Each of the participating states organised its own qualifying matches from December 2016 to February 2017 at the state level and selected a multi-ethnic team to participate in the final tournament on 18-19 March 2017.