BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The final round of the 2018 Malaysia Super League (MSL) in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will take place this weekend, before the league takes a short break for the Aidilfitri celebration.
In matchday 14 almost all of the clubs in the bottom half of the standings recorded upsets over their more-fancied opponents, and similar results this weekend will certainly ensure a gripping final stretch of the league competition.
The round 14 top of the table clash between league leaders Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) and second-placed Pahang that had been scheduled for last Tuesday was postponed to this Friday, while the return fixture in Kuantan that had been scheduled for round 15 was pushed to next Tuesday. For the purpose of this article, we are considering both matches as part of matchday 15.
JDT are eight points clear at the top, and they will remain there even if they lose both of their matches against Pahang. Whereas for Pahang, two back-to-back defeats could see them dropping down to the fifth spot.
Perak in third will host a resurgent Negeri Sembilan, who on Wednesday stunned them with a last-gasp equaliser in their 1-1 draw in Paroi. A win for the hosts may allow them to snatch the second spot back, while a defeat could see them plummet to fifth place. However, a win will not be enough to let the 11th-placed Deer leave the relegation zone, as they are four points adrift off safety.
Negeri Sembilan vs Perak on Wednesday. Photo from Football Malaysia LLP
Kedah in fourth will play away to bottom-placed Kelantan, with their Tuesday match in Alor Star ending in a shock 2-1 defeat to the hosts. A win for the Red Eagles means the possibility of leaping to second place, but another defeat may cause them to drop down to sixth. A win for the Red Warriors will not be enough to take them to safety, but they could pip Negeri to eleventh place.
Fifth-placed Terengganu FC's situation is also similar to Kedah's as they are both on 21 points, and on Saturday they will host seventh-placed PKNP FC, who edged them 2-1 in Ipoh on Tuesday. A win for PKNP this Saturday could allow them to climb up one spot to sixth, while a defeat, coupled with unfavourable results in the other matches, could see them plummet to 10th place.
PKNS FC in sixth place host Selangor in eighth place on Sunday, after their Wednesday match ended in a 2-1 win to the Red Giants. The Red Ants need a win to recover their form following four consecutive matches without a win, furthermore the two sides will meet again in a two-legged FA Cup semi-final tie later this month. If PKNS win there is a chance for them to move up to fourth, but a defeat could see them drop down to ninth place. For Selangor, a win could see them pip PKNS to sixth place, but they could drop down to tenth if they lose.
On Tuesday Melaka United in ninth battled tenth-placed Kuala Lumpur (KL) in a pulsating match that was held in Cheras, that ended in a 4-3 win to the visitors. This Saturday they will face off again, this time in Melaka. The Mousedeers, who along with PKNP and Selangor are on 17 points, also share their positional permutation this weekend. Whereas for the Hawks, a win could see them climb up to seventh, but a defeat will not hurt their position as they are four points ahead of Negeri.