BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Current position: 2nd
Earlier this season, Goal predicted that the Bos Gaurus will finish the season in the fourth place, which would be an improvement for the club that finished the 2017 Malaysia Super League (MSL) in fifth.
However, Mehmet Durakovic's men have shown marked progress so far in the league, to reach second place, just five points behind JDT.
Perak. Photo from Football Malaysia LLP
The Australian coach has once again proved himself a strong argument for the need for patience in running a team, in a time when coaches and managers are regularly sacked for failing to meet unfair expectations.
They kicked off the 2018 season rather unconvincingly with one win, one draw and two defeats, but soon picked up pace with five consecutive wins and one draw.
Perak's scoring record this season are not overly impressive; 18 goals, the fourth best team, but they have been defending particularly effectively; conceding only ten goals as the third best team defensively.
Their stellar performance so far has been obtained on the back of their pre-season signings; particularly Brazilian forward Wander Luiz Junior and Australian centre back Robert Cornthwaite. Wander and compatriot Gilmar have scored eleven league goals between them so far, while Cornthwaite commanded the backline well to help the Ipoh-based side record four clean sheets.
Many fans and observers are expecting JDT to win their fifth straight MSL title this season and for good reasons, but they shouldn't be discounting Perak's chances just yet. After all, the two sides have not meet in the league yet this season, and the Bos Gaurus can hypotetically overturn the five-point deficit should they beat the Tigers in both matches.
But for that to happen, Durakovic needs to push his men into improving at a faster rate than he is accustomed to.
Team: Terengganu FC
Current position: 5th
Next we move on to a team we projected to finish the league season in sixth place; Terengganu. Having been promoted to the MSL as the previous season's second tier runners up, Irfan Bakti Abu Salim's charges started out convincingly with two consecutive draws, followed by two back-to-back wins to place them in the second place
However, a 1-0 defeat at home to league leaders JDT and injury to striker and captain Kipré Tchetche started a run of inconsistent performances that ended in two wins, one draw and two defeats.
They have scored 17 goals in total, while letting in 13.
For some reason, the Turtles have been playing worse at home, recording only one win, two draws and two defeats this season, compared to their away record; three wins, one draw and one defeat.
Terengganu's capture of English midfielder Lee Tuck from Negeri Sembilan in the pre-season proved to be their best signing this season, with Tuck having netted five goals, on top the six scored by Kipré, who stayed on from the previous season.
Kipré Tchetche. Photo from Terengganu FC
The Turtles are currently in fifth place, one spot above our predicted sixth, but they have proven at one point that they could do better, by occupying the second place. Kipré has returned from injury, and that means what's left for Irfan's men to do is to work on that home ground jitters.