BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Round seven of the Super League will take place this Tuesday and Wednesday, just three days after the previous matchday.
Selangor are currently undergoing a two-win streak, having defeated Felda United FC and then Kelantan in the league. But that certainly pales in comparison to Kedah's, as the Red Eagles have won four matches and drawn twice, and they are the only MSL side to have not been beaten this season.
However the Red Giants' home record in all competitions this season has been rather average. They've won two matches, drawn in one and lost one.
Fortunately for them, the visitors' record away from home too is not as good as their home record. Out of three away matches Kedah have played this season, they only won one and drawn in two. Coincidentally, Kedah scored only one goal in each of the three matches, which suggests that Maniam Pachaiappan's men may have to ensure that they score at least two goals if they want to defeat the high-flying visitors on Wednesday.
In the recent years, the two sides have met four times. Interestingly, two of those encounters were Malaysia Cup final matches. The one in 2015 was won by Selangor, while the following year's final was won by Kedah. The remaining two encounters were in the 2016 MSL, with Kedah winning one match and the other ending in a draw.
On Wednesday, Selangor are expected to be without their Liberian forward Francis Doe who limped off the pitch in the first half of their win against Kelantan last Saturday. However, the scorer of both their goals; Brazilian forward Juliano Mineiro will likely be fielded as well as Romanian Viktor Astafei and Nigerian centreback Ugo Ukah. Utility man Veenod Subramaniam too is expected to start, alongside young winger Syahmi Safari and custodian Khairul Azhan Khalid, whose inclusion in the squad has improved the club's defending. Apart from Doe, no other key players for the Red Giants are injured.
Kedah boss Tan Cheng Hoe meanwhile is expected to field all their foreign players except for the injured Brazilian forward Sandro da Silva, with skipper Khairul Helmi Johari in centre back, Fitri Omar in defence, and Ifwat Akmal in between the sticks. With Sandro still injured and Fakri not expected to recover in time after he had to be taken off on Saturday against Pulau Pinang, his replacement in the match, Syafiq Ahmad should expect a rare start, as he managed to score one goal against the Panthers. Baddrol Bakhtiar, Syazwan Zainon, Akram Mahinan and Farhan Roslan are still sidelined due to injuries.
The possible absence of Doe means that Maniam is likely to again tell his men to park the bus against Kedah, a gameplan he is not averse to utilising when going up against opponents that he knows is much superior than his side, like he did in their away match against JDT earlier this month.
The result in Selayang this Wednesday will likely depend on whether Selangor can park the bus well, which means the match will end in a goalless stalemate, or not, which will give the visitors their fifth league win and allow them to continue leading the table.