BY NIK AFIQ Follow on Twitter
T-Team FC vs Pulau Pinang
Pulau Pinang head coach Ashley Westwood is sweating over import striker Nigel Dabinyaba's fitness as he is hoping that the striker could turn around his club's luck when they travel to Terengganu this weekend.
The Panthers' start to the season could not have been much worse after they lost their first two games of the season to Perak and Selangor respectively.
Westwood was even sent off in their clash against Perak and bemoaned his team’s luck in the past two games.
However, Westwood believed that his team’s luck will change when their Dabinyaba returns from injury.
According to The Star, Westwood said: “We miss our centre forward. Without Nigel, we are relying on young players to score the goals.”
“Nigel will make a difference when he is fit, I’m sure he will score a lot of goals for us. He is not too far away from recovery.”
Westwood is hoping that Dabinyaba can help Jefri Chew upfront when they go up against T-Team this week, as the East Coast side arealso without a win so far.
T-Team kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Sarawak at home, followed by an embarrassing 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Pahang.
If there is one thing that Titans boss Rahmad Dermawan needs to do to fix his team, it is the team’s leaky defence as they have already conceded six goals after two games.
There were also goals galore when the two sides met last year. T-Team defeated Pulau Pinang 3-2 away from home but the Panthers got their revenge when they put four past the Titan, winning the game at Kuala Terengganu 4-3.
Sarawak vs Pahang
Sarawak have started the season impressively, after their 1-1 draw away to T-Team, and their gritty 3-2 defeat to Kedah at the Darul Aman Stadium.
Hoping to get their first win of the year as they play for the first at home this season, head coach David Usop received a hit when Croatian striker Mateo Roskam is set to miss the upcoming games due to injury.
Roskam had to withdraw just before the game against Kedah and Usop has now confirmed that the striker will miss the game against Pahang and Pulau Pinang as well.
According to Utusan Borneo, Usop said; “This is bad news for us because we really need Mateo’s service for the game against Pahang.”
“I hope he can recover fully as soon as possible because we need him to lead our front line,” added David.
With the absence of Roskam, David may have to rely on young striker Abdul Rahman once again when they meet the in-form Pahang.
Pahang head coach Dollah Salleh’s return to Kuantan after a horrible spell with the national team could not have been better.
An impressive 1-1 draw away at Perak, and a spectacular 5-0 win over T-Team at the Darulmakmur have given the Elephants and their fans something to smile about after a dissapointing 2016 campaign.
However, Dollah believes that his team are yet to reach its full potential, and he demanded that his team be consistent with their current performance.
“Still to early to say that we already have our best eleven. There is still a long journey ahead and what’s important is for us to be consistent,” said Dollah to Kosmo Online.
If recent records are to be accounted, Pahang are on course for another victory. Sarawak have failed to beat Pahang in their last six meetings, stretching back to 2014, but they have never lost as well when they played Pahang at home, having recorded three draws in a row.
Pahang players celebrating a goal against T-Team last week. Photo by Pahang FA Facebook
Perak vs Melaka United FC
For Perak boss Karl-Heinz Weigang, the match against Melaka United will be a huge chance for his team to continue their momentum after their 1-0 win against Pulau Pinang last week.
Weigang praised his players for their win against the Panthers, but he also demanded that his team give more in the upcoming games.
The German told The Star; “In our first match, the players tried too much kicking the ball up in the field. Fortunately, for the second game, they changed their style to play passing football.”
“The players are still improving. They need at least three to five competitive games to get fully match fit.”
Perak will be without the home support in the match, as they have been ordered to play in an empty stadium for three home games as part of their punishment by the Malaysian FA due to a crowd trouble incident last year.
But for Melaka United striker, Surendran Rasiah, playing at an empty stadium could give his team a slight advantage this Saturday.
Melaka are still without a win after their game against Kelantan was postponed, but a 1-1 draw against Selangor has shown signs that the Premier League champions are not an easy team to be defeated.
Surendran also added that the team are currently determined to get a win before they play their first home game of the season, in the next matchday.
Speaking to Berita Harian, Surendran said: “We already opened the season with a draw, and now we are aiming to collect three points.”
“Actually playing inside an empty stadium may give us a slight advantage over the home team, but we know that the Bos Gaurus are stil a strong team at home.”
Incredibly, the last time these two teams met was 10 years ago when Perak thrashed Melaka 9-0 in a Super League clash, and also recorded 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture. Melaka also failed to get a win in their previous four meetings in all competitions.