MSL 2018 Preview: #7-#9 - The ones in the safety zone

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Continuing on the season preview, these next 3 teams that are likely to finish in the bottom half of the table but should secure another MSL season.

PKNS FC

Predicted finish in 2018: 9th
2017 season: 7th in MSL

Head coach: K. Rajagopal

Notable transfers in: Romel Morales, Zac Anderson, Qayyum Marjoni, Nurridzuan Abu Hassan, Mahali Jasuli, Jafri Firdaus Chew, K. Reuben, Faris Ramli, Rodney Akwensivie

Notable transfer out: Nizam Abu Bakar, Khairu Azrin, Amirizdwan Taj, Azmi Muslim, Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh, Fauzan Dzulkifli, Fabio Ferreira, Abdou Jammeh

Important fixtures: v Selangor (April 1), ​v Kuala Lumpur (May 2)

K. Rajagopal - Malaysia head coach

King Raja returns to club football, taking over the reins at PKNS, the club that groomed him back in his playing days. The former national team head coach comes with a huge amount of experience and big things are expected of him at the club.

PKNS's transfer business this window has seen them recruit a number of experienced individuals to beef up their squad for the new season. Coincidentally, Rajagopal has in his ranks the likes of Safee Sali, K. Gurusamy and latest recruit Mahali - who were vital member of his 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup winning squad.

The signings of Anderson, Qayyum and Mahali will likely mean that they will form part of the defence and while the attack also looks strong with Safee, Faris and Nurridzuan available - the midfield department looks the weakest one for the team.

Faris Ramli, Romel Morales, PKNS FC

Singaporean Faris looks to be the key player for PKNS if they are to do well this upcoming season. Blessed with plenty of pace and trickery, Faris can proved to be handful to any full backs if he's on form.

This incarnation of PKNS doesn't look strong enough to challenge for the league title but at the same time, looks to strong to be mired in the relegation dogfight. Should be able to comfortable escape relegation with a bottom half of the table finish.

Kuala Lumpur

Predicted finish in 2018: 8th
2017 season: 1st in MPL

Head coach: Fabio Joaquim Maciel da Silva

Notable transfers in: Zaquan Adha, Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Syazwan Andik, Saiful Nizam Miswan, Achmad Jufriyanto

Notable transfer out: Remezey Che Ros, Arif Anwar, Nicolas Dul, Tam Sheang Tsung, Helmi Remeli, Manaf Mamat

Important fixtures: v Selangor (February 4), ​v Terengganu (April 4)

Kuala Lumpur, 31102017

The newly-promoted KL that won the Premier League last season, have largely kept faith with the squad that took them up. Fabio is still the head coach and the Brazilian's is an imposing figure on the sidelines with his antics.

Like PKNS, KL have also gone with the experience route in their first foray back in the top tier since 2012. Indra Putra has been named as the new captain for the season and with him also came the two players with plenty of experience in Zaquan and Saiful Nizam.

Most importantly for KL and their fans, is that they will be returning to the hollowed turf of KLFA Stadium in Cheras, leaving behind the days of playing their home matches at Selayang Stadium.

Also vital to the cause will be the retention of Guilherme de Paula and Paulo Josue, the former a top scorer in the Premier League last season and no stranger to the Super League, having turned out for Selangor before.

Irfan Zakaria Malaysia U23

Irfan Zakaria's performances for Malaysia Under-23 have made people sit up and take notice of him but with KL, he's used in central midfield and it will be interesting to see his adaptation and development as the season progress.

The first few weeks of the campaign will provide an indication how KL will fare in a new division but with a smattering of experience heads all across the pitch, they could well ride on the momentum of their title-winning promotion to stay in the Super League for another season.

Kelantan

Predicted finish in 2018: 7th
2017 season: 10th

Head coach: Sathit Bensoh

Notable transfers in: Bruno Lopes, Ferdinand Sinaga, Cassio de Jesus, Shafiq Shaharudin, S. Veenod, Do Dong-hyun, Sukri Hamid

Notable transfer out: Daudsu Jamaluddin, Syihan Hazmi, Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Qayyum Marjoni, Indra Putra Mahayuddin, S. Subramaniam

Important fixtures: v Terengganu (February 6), ​v Pahang (February 10)

Kelantan vs Ratchaburi, 20012018

The east coast side replaced Zahasmi Ismail with Thai Sathit Bensoh, a year after the latter was initially brought in as assistant to the former. This season represent a fresh start for the team that has been predominantly dominated by unpleasant headlines in particular relating to unpaid wages.

Bibi Ramjani Ilias as the latest president of the Kelantan FA seems to be putting the right management in place as Kelantan look to make their on-pitch work become the focus once again.

They only narrowly avoided relegation to the Premier League last season and have made drastic changes to the core of the team, dispensing quite a few experience individuals. However, the one talisman albeit an ageing one still remains, Badhri Radzi continues to be entrusted to lead the team.

All but one of the imports from the 2017 season were removed with only Morgaro Gomis being rewarded with a new contract. They have also moved to secured Indonesian Ferdinand Sinaga and brought in one of the stars from the Premier League last season in Do Dong-hyun.

Badhri Radzi, Indraputra - ATM vs Kelantan

One of the breakout stars in 2017 with his exploits with the Malaysia U23s as well as the U19s, Nik Akif looks set to be given an run in the first team, having been promoted from the junior squad. The diminutive midfielder will need to show to a wider audience just why he is so highly rated in the national camp.

The fresh approach by Kelantan this new season should see them stay well clear of relegation troubles but their fans probably should not be hoping for anything higher than a mid table finish for the 2018 season.

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