It could be an early season game that has a say in the destination of the title, as surprise package Terengannu battle the Tigers of Johor
BY MARK DAWSON
Mazlizam – Azlan – Bikana – Zubir
Farhan - Ismail - Mario - Nordin - Ashaari
Jasuli - Baihakki - Fadhli - Asra
Safiq - Shakir
Amri – Mat Yo - Azwan
It has been a tremendous start to the season so far for Terengannu, who until recently sat on top of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) picking up 10 points from their opening five matches. But they will be hoping that the enforced month long break from competitive fixtures doesn’t have an adverse effect on their form. Originally they were due to return from a three-week break with an MSL fixture against Selangor last Friday, but that was postponed.
The team has had four friendly matches during their break to keep them match fit, but the visit of Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) will surely be a much tougher test of Abdul Rahman Ibrahim’s men. Their impressive early season form has been largely built on a miserly defence, with only two goals conceded in 450 minutes of league action so far.
While the club have confirmed that they are looking to sign new import players when the transfer window opens, Ibrahim is fully focused on Saturday’s clash with JDT. The wily coach commented before the game, “The boys know that we need to win this match against JDT if we are to be serious contenders for the league title. It is make-or-break time and I hope the players will rise to the occasion.”
For Johor, the Southern Tigers continued their recent impressive form on their return to MSL action last weekend, with a comprehensive 2-0 victory at Sime Darby. Despite being without Argentine Pablo Aimar, who was out with a hamstring injury, and Malaysian internationals Aidil Zafuan and Safee Sali, the strength in depth of the squad was in evidence.
While new team manager Bojan Hodak commented in the week that Aimar was set for a return to training and that he is likely to “play some part against Terengganu”, it woud be a surpise to see Hodak and Cesare Jimenez risk their star player, and disrupt a winning team.
The key battle is likely to be the on-form attacking trio of Johor, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Luciano Figueroa and Amri Yahyah agains the likely Terengannu back four of Mazlizam Mohamad, Vincent Bikana, Ahmad Azlan Zainal, Zubir Azmi.
Last weekend it was Norshahrul and Figueroa who fired their team to victory, if they are kept quiet, and as expected the Turtles flood the midfield, then the home team could once again climb over their wealthy rivals in the MSL table.