Goal's Malaysia Cup Analysis: Pahang face danger of crashing out in group stages

Ineptly labeled the 'Group of Death', qualification to the next round remains on an even playing field for all participants - Kelantan, Pahang, Terengganu and Negeri Sembilan

Group C is undeniably the group of death in the Malaysia Cup. It’s the only group that has all four teams from the Malaysian Super League (MSL). It’s the only group that has east coast teams. In fact, all three east coast teams are in this group. There are only wo different winners of the Malaysia Cup in the last four years and both of them are in this very group. Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan are joined by Terengganu and Pahang to make up the quartet of this group. Goal takes a look at the prospect of each team in Group C.

Despite sweeping all before them last year, Kelantan could only manage a fourth-place finish in the Super League. However, they did retain the FA Cup by beating Johor Darul Takzim. According to coach, Bojan Hodak, Kelantan wants not only to progress to the next stage of the competition but he also wants to win the cup. They are arguably the favourites to advance from this group and much will depend on the form of captain, Badhri Radzi. The midfield dynamo is the country’s best playmaker at the moment and has a keen eye for goals as well. The only downside to this Kelantan side is their defence. S. Subramaniam is a big miss for them as they continually find it hard to deal with high balls and crosses.
Dollah Salleh will realise that despite only just finishing a point behind Kelantan in the Super League, his team may not have the capacity to overturn the Red Warriors just yet. However, the former Malaysia national will be confident that his team could advance to the quarterfinal stage. His young charges earned many plaudits with their exploits during the league campaign. Their brand of football is pleasing on the eye and many teams have cast their envious eyes on the emergence of those like Fauzi Roslan and R. Gopinathan. Vibrant in performance and with slick passing, Pahang have to be one of the dark horses of the competition. However, when it comes to the later stages, their inexperience may turn against them.
The Turtles had a disappointing Super League season, finishing in lowly ninthplace. E. Elavarasan must motivate his team and remind them of their quality if Terengganu doesn’t want their participation in the Malaysia Cup to end in the group stages. Their biggest problem is their consistency. On a good day, they can deliver a thrashing to the likes of Kelantan but on a bad day, they struggle to even cope with the worst of teams. Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin and Jean-Emmanuel Effa Owona will have to be at their best in every single game as they are the biggest threat that Terengganu can field. Elavarasan will hope that Vincent Bikana will be ready to shore up his defence, which was one of the MSL’s five worst defences.
The last-placed team in the Super League, Negeri Sembilan, only just scraped into this competition after beating Sabah in a one-leg playoff. They will play in the Premier League next year and most of the players in the squad will be thinking that the Malaysia Cup is an opportunity to alert other teams that they still warrant a spot in a Super League side. Nazrin Nawi’s exploits during the season has propelled him into K. Rajagopal’s thoughts but even he knows, that football is not a one-man-game. The experienced ones like Idris Karim and Norhafiz Zamani Misbah will have to impart their knowledge to the rest of their teammates, if the Deers want to make any sort of impact in the competition.