BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
Top of the Super League table and undefeated across all competitions this season, Kedah definitely goes into the FA Cup third round match against Perak as the favourites despite the match being played in Ipoh.
Head coach, Tan Cheng Hoe has built an impressive team over his 3-year tenure at the Red Eagles and it is all coming into fruition this year as they launch an assault at the league title. However, one-off cup competitions can take a very different turn even for any favourites and Cheng Hoe aims to ensure that his team doesn't suffer because of it.
"You see FA Cup, sometimes the lower clubs can upset the top. You see it in Europe, when top Premier League sides lose to lower ranked teams. But of course we have to come to Perak with confidence. It's a tough match. After they changed the coach, they look like they have more discipline in their play," said Tan in an interview with Goal.
Tan would have watched videos of Perak matches and while the teams have yet to meet in the league thus far, he is well aware of the strengths that the Bos Gaurus possess. Particularly given their success in the transfer window.
"Their strength is that they have a never-say-die attitude. The way they fight, the way the fans motivate them. This year, Perak's squad has good depth with some local national players and good foreigners. Even though they are fourth now, they are one of the contenders for the league also," added Tan.
Tan has managed to integrate Ken Ilso well and the adaptation period for him has been a short one. Adding Akram Mahinan to the base of his midfield has proven to be an astute decision, justified by Akram being called up to the national team.
However, there are concerns elsewhere on the pitch, especially with doubts in the midfield section of his team. One enforced change is likely with Baddrol looking like he won't be fit enough to play the full 90 minutes.
"I'm a bit worried about Baddrol Bakhtiar. He got hamstring troubles but he's here for the team. He won't start for the team but we'll see. We miss also Fakri as he's out for another four weeks more with MCL and ACL concerns. Farhan Roslan picked up hamstring injury two weeks ago and he's not 100% yet, but we'll see how tomorrow [Saturday]," told Tan.
The game today against Perak will be another big test of Kedah's credential as one of the front runners of Malaysian football. Having missed out on AFC Cup this year, Tan will surely be eyeing to make progress in this competition as it offers a route into the continent's second cup competition.