The chase for Asian spot headlines final Malaysia Super League round

David Rowley, Leandro dos Santos, Perak v Kedah, Malaysia FA Cup, 27 Jul 2019
Sports Regime
The Perak vs Kedah encounter on Sunday is surely the most awaited clash of this season's final matchday of the Malaysia Super League.

With the 2020 Malaysia Super League title having been secured by now seven-time consecutive champions JDT last weekend, what is left in the final matchday this weekend is the fight for the runners up spot.

Only two teams are still in the run for the second place, and an automatic 2021 AFC Cup slot; Kedah on 19 points and Perak on 18, who will meet at the Perak Stadium on Sunday, October 11.

The Bos Gaurus head coach Mehmet Durakovic was quoted by the Malaysian Football League (MFL) as saying that despite the absence of the injured centre back and skipper Shahrul Saad, his charges will be relying on the same kind of resilience they produced last week.

The team that needs nothing less than three points this weekend to secure the runners up spot had last week produced a stunning comeback away to Pahang, holding the hosts to a 3-3 draw despite having trailed 3-0 at halftime.

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"My players' morale is at an amazing level at the moment, especially with the fight they showed in coming back from three goals down against Pahang, as well as their three straight wins prior to that. So I don't want to put them under undue pressure despite needing a win to secure the runners up spot, because they have given everything to me in the previous matches.

"For now I haven't decided on Shahrul's replacement, and admittedly his absence has complicated my plans due to his importance. But I'm happy to know that de Paula (striker Guiherme de Paula) has been positive in training and his chance of featuring against Kedah is now 50-50. But I'm not too concerned because at the end of the day, football is a team game and what matters is how my charges will combine on Sunday," explained the Australian.

Mehmet Durakovic, Perak, 2017

Mehmet Durakovic. Photo from Perak

Kedah centre back Irfan Zakaria meanwhile is relishing the job of defending against Perak's man-in-form and the league's current top scorer, Shahrel Fikri.

"I know Shahrel really well and everyone can see he is in a good form. So defending against him won't be an easy task. His finishing has been clinical in the past few matches and we cannot give him too much space.

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"Only a win will do for us in Ipoh, and I personally am looking forward to playing in the AFC Cup. I still remember the opportunity I had to play for Kedah in the AFC Champions League play-offs earlier this season, and I want the same experience next season," said the Malaysia defender to MFL.

Irfan Zakaria, PDRM v Kedah, Super League, 29 Aug 2020

Irfan Zakaria. Photo by Sports Regime