Sunday, 25 September 2011

All big teams set to book quarter final tickets

All the big guns – except for 32-time winner Selangor – are set to confirm their quarter-final places in the Malaysia Cup competition.

Defending champions Kelantan, Negri Sembilan, Terengganu and surprise packages Perak, Felda United and T-Team are the frontrunners to make the knockout stage from their respective groups.

But it is Group A leaders Perak who are the talk of the town. They have certainly performed above expectations, especially after losing five key players to suspension.

Coach Norizan Bakar has done exceptionally well to whip the team into shape to lead Group A with 10 points. Perak, who now need just one point from their last two matches to book a berth in the last eight, will play Johor at the Larkin Stadium.

Negri Sembilan and Terengganu, with nine points each, are the best bets to qualify from Group B. All they need is to win their matches.

Negri, who lost 2-0 to PKNS FC at home last week, should bounce back and get the three points they need when they travel to the Selayang MC Stadium to face winless Sime Darby FC.

Terengganu, who are one of the best offensive teams – thanks to the likes of Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin, Abdul Manaf Mamat, Joseph Kallang Tie, Mohd Ismail Faruqi and Golden Boot winner Abdul Hadi Yahaya – should prove too hot for Premier League champions PKNS in another Group B match at the MBPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya.

Group C leaders Felda United have the easiest task of reaching the last eight. All they need is a point from their remaining two matches.

Felda, who have 10 points, can do just that against Sarawak at the State Stadium in Kuching today. Even if they lose to the Crocs, they can still go through if Kelantan beat Johor FC in another match at the JCorp Stadium in Pasir Gudang.

Felda’s last group match is against Kelantan in Kota Baru on Tuesday.

Felda’s sudden rise can be attributed to the on-loan signings of midfielders D. Saarvindran, who has been the livewire of the team, and S. Sivanesan.

Kelantan, meanwhile, are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to retain the title. Coach Datuk M. Karathu is one happy man following the return of goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (pic) from national duty.

Khairul played a key role in restricting Japan to a 2-0 win over Malaysia in the Asian Zone final round qualifying match in Fukuoka on Wednesday.

“It is good to have our number one goalkeeper back and he will be in my plans for the match against Johor FC,” said Karathu.

All eyes will also be on Selangor, who are trophyless so far this season after losing the Charity Shield to Kelantan (0-2), crashing out in the semi-finals of the FA Cup to Kelantan (2-6 on aggregate) and failing to retain the Super League crown.

Selangor have paid a heavy price since losing ace striker Mohd Safee Sali to Indonesian Super League side Pelita Jaya FC early this year.

Coach K. Devan resigned on Wednesday following the team’s poor showing in Group D, having accumulated only four points from four matches.

Assistant coach P. Maniam has been handed the tough task of getting Selangor into the knockout stage. Selangor have only a mathematical chance of doing it as they need to win both their remaning matches against Police today at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi and Kuala Lumpur in Shah Alam on Tuesday.

At the same time they must hope for either T-Team and Kuala Lumpur to lose points in their remaining fixtures.

“It may be our last chance to stay alive in the competition,” Maniam said yesterday.

T-Team lead Group D with nine points, followed by Kuala Lumpur a point behind.
Selangor are third with four points while Police have one point.

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