Frank Bernhardt believes surprise package UiTM FC are safe from relegation after upsetting Terengganu FC

UiTM FC, Malaysia Super League, 15032020
Malaysia Football League
The Malaysia Super League debutante that few had had confidence in are currently third in the standings, after edging favourites Terengganu FC.

Many may not have had confidence in university side UiTM FC's chances when they gained promotion to the Malaysia Super League for the first time ever this season, especially when they were effectively a replacement team.

But fast forward nine months later, the Lion Troops have blew everyone out of the water with their string of wins under former Malaysia U-23 head coach Frank Bernhardt.

While their earlier three-league win streak was halted by a 1-0 win defeat to Perak away from home last weekend, they returned to winning ways on matchday eight, with an impressive 2-1 victory over Terengganu FC at home on Saturday. 

Luck helped Arif Anwar open the scoring for the hosts as early as the fourth minute, but a mistake by custodian Azfar Arif led to a penalty that was converted for the equaliser by Turtles skipper Lee Tuck. Defender Victor Nirennold netted what would be the winner in the 60th minute, although not without them having to work extra hard in defence due to the Khuzaimi Piee's second yellow and sending off with 20 minutes remaining.

Speaking after the match, Bernhardt praised the contributions of his foreign players to the team.

"We had a good start with the early lead, but a mistake by the goalkeeper conceded the equaliser. Afterwards it wasn't beautiful football anymore after fights keep breaking out on the pitch. But thankfully we got the winner in the second half.

"We've been lucky this season, as well as clever, when it comes to the foreign players. [Rabih] Ataya constantly troubles the opponents, Ousmane [Fane] is good in 1v1 situations, they fit well with the team and giving input to them is easy," explained the 51-year old trainer.

Frank Bernhardt, UiTM

Frank Bernhardt. Photo from UiTM

He however criticised his 21-year old goalkeeper Azfar for the blunder that led to the visitors' equaliser.

"All players make mistakes, but when goalkeepers make them, they're mostly serious mistakes that concede goals. In the end, it (Azfar's error) was not necessary especially as a young player. I don't want to put the hammer on him, but it wasn't necessary."

The German however refused to think too much of their chance of finishing their first ever top-tier campaign in second place, preferring to officially secure their safety first. 

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While league leaders JDT have broken away from the rest of the table by a huge margin, UiTM, now in third, are level on 13 points with second-placed Kedah, although the Red Eagles have a game in hand. The university team meanwhile is separated by seven points from the relegation zone.

"Everything is possible, but for me what's important today is the three points because now I'm quite sure that we have nothing to do with relegation anymore, which was the first target.

"We take what we can get. We will see what will come afterwards. The players need rest and we look forward to the next game," responded the German to a question.