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Thursday's draw sees the 16 Malaysia Cup contenders placed into four challenging groups, with Kelantan starting against Terengganu on the opening day

The fixtures for the 2012 Malaysia Cup group stage have been released, with a number of fascinating ties ready to be played out.

Matchday 1 on 22nd August will see Malaysian Super League (MSL) champions Kelantan make the short journey to Kuala Terengganu to take on traditional rivals Terengganu at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium, with the Kota Bharu return set to be contested on September 14.

Last season’s champions Negeri Sembilan, kick off their campaign away to Felda United and take on Perak, arguably their main threat in Group C, at home on August 28. New Perak coach Jang Jung meanwhile takes charge of his first game away to club side Sime Darby FC at the Selayang Stadium.

Johor playing Johor FC is the stand-out fixture of Matchday 2 on August 25, while the Lions XII’s trip to Johor Bahru for the game against old nemesis Johor, on Matchday 3, is certain to generate plenty of interest on both sides of the Causeway. It also means V.Sundramoorthy's men will face a reunion with Singapore’s favourite son, Fandi Ahmad, who is now the southern state’s football team manager and technical advisor.

Key dates down the line include the repeat of the Causeway derby at the Jalan Besar Stadium and B.Sathianathan’s return to the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium with his Premier League winning ATM side on September 1; as well as Kedah’s home date with ‘The Red Warriors’ and Selangor’s trip to Pahang three days later.

The group stages will then be wrapped up on the 14th of September with the quarter-finals slated to start exactly two weeks after that. The final is scheduled to take place on October 20.

This year’s Malaysia Cup will be the last tournament to be staged with 16 teams. The tournament expands to 24 teams from next year’s edition.

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