Former league winners Kedah will be left to battle it out in the relegation play-offs to stay in the MSL, after wins for their rivals made their 2-1 victory over Perak meaningless
Kedah’s six year stay in Malaysian football’s top flight is now under the risk of coming to an end after wins for their fellow relegation candidates confirmed the northern outfit’s place in the relegation play-offs.
A shock 1-0 win for Felda United FC over newly crowned MSL champions Kelantan, combined with Johor FC’s 2-0 triumph over Terengganu have made it mathematically impossible for an automatic stay in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) for the Canaries, although they managed to beat Perak 2-1 at the Perak Stadium with only 10 men.
Kedah welcomed back Khyril Muhymeen and Fauzi Nan from suspension, who was surprisingly made captain on this occasion by coach Radhi Mat Din and, Amar Rohidan from injury. Perak replaced goalkeeper Nasril Nourdin with Kamarul Effendi after his disastrous performance in the embarrassing 6-0 loss to Kelantan on Saturday.
In the action in Ipoh, Perak, determined to put things right in front of their own fans following the Kota Bharu debacle, played some decent stuff early on, hoping for an opening to score with Cameroonian forward Albert Bodjongo looking a constant threat to the Kedah back four. Bodjongo, who ran the opposition defence ragged throughout the first 45 minutes, stung Kedah goalkeeper, Helmi Eliza’s palms with a powerful shot in the 22nd minute but Helmi did well to push it away for a corner.
Fittingly it was Bodjongo who broke the deadlock in the 37th minute. A Nazri Kamal corner found the striker unmarked and he coolly slotted the ball through Helmi’s legs. Kedah, who hardly tested Kamarul in the first half, came back fighting and earned a penalty for handball two minutes before the half-time whistle, one that was duly converted by Baddrol Bakhtiar.
The home side again looked the more dangerous of the two teams when the second half resumed, with Bodjongo continuing his fine first half form.
Helmi did not help Kedah’s cause when he got himself sent off for pushing Nazri down in the 65th minute. Radhi had to send reserve goalkeeper Abdul Hadi Hamid in Wan Syukri’s place as a consequence.
With Slovakian Michal Kubala putting in a superb performance in the middle of the park, Perak looked the more likely to score the next goal and tested Hadi with a couple of dangerous efforts. But the visitors refused to back down and ran themselves to the ground, defending their goal for the remainder of the game. Khyril Muhymeen then scored the winning goal late on against the run of play but Kedah’s efforts proved futile with results elsewhere going against them.
Kedah will now join Sabah, Premier League runners-up Pahang and one of the Sarawak, Felda United FC, Johor FC trio in a four-team play-off. The winner will get to play in the MSL next year.