BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia Cup group stage round 4 matches will be played this Saturday, and several teams are poised to catch an early ticket to the knockout stage.
Dark horse PKNP FC have exceeded all expectations this season, moreso in the cup competition, with the Premier League (MPL) side now leading Group A with seven points in front of second-placed Pahang on three points. They will host misfiring top-tier club T-Team this Saturday, a match that may see them extending their lead to six points, if they win and Pahang draw in their away match against Negeri Sembilan.
Although the Titans, currently bottom of the group with two points, play in a higher division as compared to PKNP, PKNP have a good chance of defeating them this weekend, judging by their current forms. Out of their past five matches, PKNP have won four and lost one, while T-Team have won one, drawn one and lost three of theirs.
PKNP's recent performance at home this season too has been significantly better than T-Team's recent away record, with PKNP having won three matches, and lost and drawn one each. They have met only once before, their matchday 1 Malaysia Cup encounter in Kuala Terengganu, a clash that PKNP won 2-1.
In the other encounter in the group, MPL club Negeri in third place with two points will host Super League (MSL) side Pahang in Paroi, with both teams eyeing the second place. Their recent forms have been almost similar, with the Deers having recorded one win, two draws and two defeats, and two wins, one draw and two defeats for the Tok Gajah.
Judging by their home/away records, the Deers look better poised to come away with the win. Out of their latest five home matches, they have recorded two wins, two draws and one defeat, while Pahang have won one, drawn two and lost in two away matches. However, the last time Negeri managed to defeat Pahang was back in 2011.
In Group B, second-placed Felda United, currently on five points, will play away to third-placed Kuala Lumpur, currently on two points, in Selayang. Both sides have similar current records; three wins, one defeat and one draw. They both recently won their respective mid-week league matches, to return to winning ways.
Their home/away current records too are the same; three wins and two defeats. However, the last time the City Boys defeated the Fighters was in 2008.
Felda United vs Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia Cup matchday 1
Group C current standings are the most curious out of all the groups, with group leaders Kedah, second-placed Melaka United and third-placed Kelantan currently tied on six points, while UiTM are last with no points. This Saturday Melaka will host Kedah, while Kelantan will visit UiTM in Shah Alam.
In the remaining group, Group D leaders Selangor (7 points) will face third-placed Terengganu (3) in Kuala Terengganu. Both sides have had a good month or so, although the Premier League side have been doing slightly better. The Turtles have won three and drawn two out of their past five matches, while the Red Giants have won three, drawn one and lost one. Although Selangor will be looking to extend their lead, the 33-time champions may face a tough time as they have won only once in their past five encounters.
In the other match, second-placed JDT (3) will play away to bottom side Sarawak (1).