We look at the six players who are most likely to decide the encounter between MSL league leaders Selangor, and third-placed Terengganu in Kuala Terengganu on Tuesday
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The battle between league leaders Selangor and third-placed Terenganu on Tuesday night will also see two of the best current goalkeepers in the country on the same pitch, although at different ends of the pitch. Former Malaysian national team goalkeepers Sharbinee and Selangor's Farizal Marlias both currently have five league clean sheets each, and both teams currently have the two best defensive records in the league.
|Their opponents' strength is their midfield, and it is this area that seasoned player Zairo must help his team command. His other midfielders are among the best in the country, with the likes of Ashaari Shamsuddin and Ismail Faruqi, and they have to halt Selangor high up the pitch, so as to not give any space to the very dangerous Andik and Rangel.
Furthermore, Selangor's defence are the best in the league so far, which means Zairo and co must help their own forwards overload them during attacks, and create gaps in the line. They are not simply playing to spoil Selangor's title challenge, as the Turtles still have a shot at wresting the title for themselves, trailing two points behind second-placed behind JDT, and five behind the Red Giants. Get all three points against their opponents, and they will be back in the title race.
Foreign players in Malaysian clubs tend to overshadow their local counterparts to the point of doing most of the hard, leg-breaking work, but the same cannot be said of those employed by Terengganu. It does not necessarily hint of their poor quality, as surely the Turtles' current position in third speak of the pedigree of their local players instead. Furthermore, in Estupiñán's case, he only arrived in April, and he now has had two goals to his name already.
But to succeed everyone has to play the game, and the Colombian forward must make sure that he stands heads and shoulders above his teammates, moreso when job security afforded to import players in this country could be cruel at times. This he needs to prove against Selangor, the best team in the league defensively, by scoring a goal or two. Only five matches remain in the league, and time is running out for him.
Farizal is surely disappointed to see his five-match clean sheet streak ended in their previous match against JDT, but he has five more remaining matches to concentrate on. Personal records aside, he has a bigger objective to achieve, that is to help his team win the league, by not conceding any more goals.
His personal performance so far cannot be faulted, but the match against JDT showed that he can be left a little exposed when his defenders lose their concentration. Against Terengganu, Farizal needs to keep a mental note of another objective, to ensure full 90 minutes' concentration by his defenders, especially when the home side is an attacking-minded side.
Should he succeed on Tuesday and in the next four matches, perhaps he will find himself back between the sticks for the national team again.