Winner and losers of the Malaysia Cup group stage

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Find out who did well, who barely passed the grade and who failed miserably in the 2017 Malaysia Cup group stage.

The 2017 Malaysia Cup enters the crunch stage this weekend when eight teams left remaining in the competition battle it out in the quarterfinal stage to keep their hopes alive to win one of Asia's oldest football competitions.

After a gruelling six match days which were packed in between Super League matches that saw teams playing twice a week for five consecutive weeks, eight other teams were left counting the cost of missing out on the knockout action.

Goal pick out the best and worst from the Malaysia Cup group stage where 24 matches were played and 160 goals were scored.

Winners

The main standout winner were undeniably PKNP FC. The plucky Premier League side were the only one from the lower division to have secured a place in the quarters. Four other teams from the division have fallen wayside as Abu Bakar Fadzim's team stayed on the hunt to be one of the most remarkable story of the season.

Shahrel Fikri continues to be the main man for PKNP as his three goals in the competition helped his team to first place in Group A, ahead of even Pahang. The Elephants did hand PKNP a 6-0 thrashing in the penultimate round but the team from Ipoh had already secured qualification to the next round before that and may have had their minds elsewhere.

With the exception of Group C, there were no major surprises in the other three groups as Super League teams stamped their authority over smaller sides. Perak, Felda United, Kedah, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) and Selangor all qualified with relative ease.

Faced with the threat of relegation from the league all season, the Malaysia Cup became a competition of relief for Melaka United after they edged Kelantan to second spot in Group C. The Mousedeers beat the Red Warriors home and away to nail a place in the quarters.

Even though UiTM FC were relegated, on a much more individual level, Akanni Sunday became the player to have scored the most goals in the group stage. The 33-year-old Nigerian grabbed seven goals throughout the six matches played to put himself above Kedah's Sandro da Silva and Pahang's Matheus Alves in the goal scoring chart. 

Losers

In a competition that has sprung very little surprises, this will not be a huge category. Sarawak and Terengganu had the uneviable task of trying to best both JDT and Selangor, a mountain for them to climb even before the first ball was kicked. The same could be said of Negeri Sembilan, UiTM, T-Team and Kuala Lumpur.

One of two teams that will look back at the group stage with plenty of regrets is Kelantan. Their fall from grace has became a big talking point - how much of it was down to the fact that the players weren't motivated enough to play due to salary payment issue and how much of it was down to poor management, remains a debatable subject. 

Two defeats to direct rival Melaka put paid to their hopes of reaching the quarterfinal. This is only the second time in five years that Kelantan have not progressed past the group stage of the Malaysia Cup. Kelantan may be in for further trouble in the Super League as they could still face relegation if their form continues to suffer in the final three round of matches.

Another team that didn't quite make the grade would be PKNS FC. Having dispatched head coach E. Elavarasan after their opening group defeat to Perak, the appointment of Sven Gartung also did not help improve matters in the cup. The focus seemed to be on their league survival which caused them to finish last in Group A in the Malaysia Cup. Their only solitary point was gained in a score draw against Kuala Lumpur.

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