BY NIK AFIQ Follow on Twitter
Super League action resumes on Wednesday after a 10-day absence, with intriguing match-ups for two teams who are jostling for the remaining spot in the 2017 Malaysia Cup.
Tenth-placed Melaka United will host fellow strugglers, PKNS FC in ninth as the previous season's Premier League champions struggle to find a win in their last few matches, with both sides tied on nine points.
Their last win was in February over Kelantan and since then, they have yet to record a win in any of their fixtures, including a 7-0 defeat at the hands of JDT. Melaka were also hit with the 'threat' that their president, Datuk Seri Idris Haron might resign from his post if the team keep getting poor results.
For PKNS, the other promotion team from the Premier League, their own results have not been convincing as well. Their last win was back in early February, and they have only collected three points from a possible 18 from their last six fixtures.
Their head coach, Elavarasan Elangowan is determined to get a win in order to improve their position in the league. According to Selangor Kini , Elavarsan said: “We want to improve our position in the table. I can see some positive signs during the game against JDT and Kedah so I hope we can bring back three points.”
Elavarasan will once again rely on Safee Sali and Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh to get the goals and help them secure a place in this year’s Malaysia Cup.
Both teams have met earlier this year with Melaka defeating PKNS 1-0 in the FA Cup, and in their Premier League fixtures last year, with both sides winning one game each.
Sarawak vs Kelantan
After suffering from three straight defeats, Sarawak will go into the matchday 11 with a positive mood after their hard fought draw against Perak in matchday 10. However, a defeat to Terengganu, which knocked them out from the FA Cup may result in some changes in David Usop’s lineup.
Utusan Borneo reported that David Usop was disappointed with the team’s finishing during the game against Terengganu, and he does not rule out making drastic changes in the lineup in order to move the team out of the relegation zone.
“The players played well to get a win but our failures in finding the finishing touch is the reason why we lost the game,” said Usop.
Sarawak are in 11th with eight points, one of the two MSL sides vying for the remaining Malaysia Cup spot, while Kelantan are sixth with 15.
The home side may be facing a tough time containing the in-form Kelantan forward Mohammed Ghaddar from scoring.
The Red Warriors have won three out of their past five league matches, losing two.
Kelantan, with Ghaddar leading the line for them, are third highest-scoring team in the league currently behind JDT and Pahang, and Ghaddar will surely aim to continue his fine form against Sarawak.
Neither team managed to get a win over each other last season, as both fixtures in 2016 ended in draws, but Kelantan have a better record over their last 10 league fixtures, having won six of them as compared to Sarawak’s two.
Mohammed Ghaddar. Photo by Vincent Phoon/CSN
Perak vs Kedah
Fifth-placed (16 points) Perak must have been disappointed when they could not get an away win to Sarawak in the previous round but under Mehmet Durakovic, the Bos Gaurus have shown promising performance.
Only one defeat in their last five fixtures, Durakovic has given an injection to the team’s morale, saying that he is confident that they can get a good result against Kedah tomorrow.
“I am confident that we can still challenge. If at Sarawak we scored three goals, which is something that is not easy to do, that shows that our players are still fighting,” said Durakovic to Stadium Astro .
Durakovic however admitted that they do need to improve on their defensive line in order to turn their draws into wins.
For third-placed Kedah (19), head coach Tan Cheng Hoe is expecting a tought task against Perak, whom they knocked out of the FA Cup just last month.
Kedah beat Perak in Ipoh in March, and Cheng Hoe believes the Bos Gaurus will be out to get revenge against his team tomorrow night.
According to Sinar Harian, Cheng Hoe said: “I’m sure they don’t want to lose at home again after we defeated them in the FA Cup. I just hope that our players can return to full fitness after our game against PKNP last Friday.”
Kedah themselves are in poor form lately, having suffered a 5-0 thumping to T-Team, before losing 1-0 to PKNP FC in second leg of their quarter-final FA Cup tie.
Cheng Hoe is also sweating over Liridon Krasniqi’s fitness, after the player were not available for the past two games due to injury.
Kedah hold a good record over Perak, having recording three victories in their last four fixtures, with Perak also having failed to beat the Red Eagles in both of their Super League fixtures last year.
Pahang vs Felda United
Ahead of this game, second-placed Pahang (20 points) know that they must win it in order to keep the pressure on JDT at the top of the table.
The Tok Gajah are three points adrift of the league leaders at the moment, having just knocked the Southern Tigers out of the FA Cup on Sunday, Dollah Salleh and his men are heading into this tie with a good form.
However, the former national coach insisted that he still wants to see more from his players and even admitted that JDT were the better team during their FA Cup match.
Pahang have dropped only four points from their last six matches and they are also the favourites when Felda United travel to Kuantan tomorrow.
For eighth-placed Felda United (10), their defeat at the hands of Tampines Rovers in the AFC Cup certainly has made it harder for B. Sathianathan to lift the team’s spirit, as they have also been without a win in the previous two league games.
Sathianathan heavily criticised his import players for their poor performance and he himself admitted that he will sign new foreign players when the transfer window opens next month.
“We can see that our import players have performed very badly. The local players played even better and have more quality compared to them. I have decided to sign three new import players during the next transfer window,” said Sathianathan to Sinar Harian .
Although they go into the game as the underdogs, Felda hold a good record against Pahang. They won both of their Super League fixtures last year, including a 3-0 victory in Kuantan while the Elephants have failed to get a win in their last three meetings against each other.
Stay with us for the previews of the matches between JDT and Pulau Pinang, and T-Team and Selangor!