Terengganu fast becoming a force in local football
It has been a long time coming and the time is nigh for Terengganu to stamp their authority on the local football scene.
Having built one of the strongest squads in Terengganu’s history, coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim stands on the cusp of emulating the Malaysia Cup triumph of Mat Zan Mat Aris in 2001, the only time the East Coast state have won Malaysian football most prestigious honour.
Irfan has formed a talented and consistent team that have already reaped their rewards with the FA Cup final win over Kelantan earlier this year.
Testament to Terengganu’s strength is the fact that seven of their players have been called up by national coach K. Rajagobal for two friendly matches against India next month.
In Ashaari Samsudin and Manaf Mamat, Terengganu possess two exciting forwards who clearly know where the back of the net is, having scored five and six goals respectively in this competition.
Super League top scorer Hadi Yahya has yet to find the mark in the Malaysia Cup but that does not mean the striker should be counted out as he remains a vital cog in the Terengganu machinery and is more than capable of adding to his tally of 26 goals for state and country this season.
Reeshafiq Alwi is the unsung hero in midfield who is a constant thorn to opposing teams, quietly stamping his authority while providing sufficient cover for his defence and allowing Joseph Kalang Tie the freedom to carve apart opposing defences with his crafty skills.
The player who began his career under Mat Zan at Kuala Lumpur and later KL Plus, has blossomed under Irfan’s guidance and but for the presence of talent elsewhere, should have found his way into the national set up.
Goalkeeper Sharbinee Allawee Ramli has copped some flak for his performance with the national team but there is no doubt he has been instrumental in Terengganu’s run to the final.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the 5-3 aggregate quarter-final victory over Kelantan or the double over Selangor in the semi-finals when a string of fine saves kept his team in the ascendancy.
Central defender Mazuki Yusof provides the leadership and experience in the team, which has been crucial in a defence that boast relatively young players in Faizal Muhammad, Zubir Azmi and Mazlizam Mohamad.
Terengganu’s 2-1 win over Perak in the 2001 final remains their greatest achievement yet but the class of 2011 will surpass anything they have done in the past should they hold aloft the trophy on tonight at the Shah Alam Stadium. Probable line-up
Goalkeeper: Sharbinee Allawee Ramli: Defenders: Faizal Muhammad, Mazlizam Mohammad, Mazuki Yusof, Zubir Azmi Midfielders: Joseph Kallang Tie, Reeshafiq Alwi, Ismail Faruqi Ashaari, Ashaari Samsuddin Strikers: Abdul Hadi Yahya, Abdul Manaf Mamat Coach: Irfan Bakti Manager: Datuk Che Mat Jusoh
Team’s leading scorers
24 (goals): Abdul Hadi Yahya
21: Manaf Mamat
19: Ashaari Samsuddin
TERENGGANU (Group B)
Beat Sime Darby 3-0 (away)
Beat PKNS 3-0 (home)
Lost to Negri Sembilan 0-1 (away)
Beat Sime Darby 1-0 (home)
Beat PKNS 1-0 (away)
Drew Negri 0-0 (home)
QF 1st leg: Beat Kelantan 3-1 (home)
QF 2nd leg: Drew Kelantan 2-2 (away)
SF 1st leg: Beat Selangor 2-0 (away)
SF 2nd leg: Beat Selangor 2-1 (home)
Runners-up (1973, 1982, 1998)
PAST 10 MEETINGS
2011 Malaysia Cup: Terengganu 0 Negri 0
2011 Malaysia Cup: Negri 1 Terengganu 0
2011 Super League: Terengganu 3 Negri 0
2011 Super League: Negri 1 Terengganu 1
2010 Super League: Terengganu 1 Negri 1
2010 Super League: Negri 2 Terengganu 1
2009 Malaysia Cup: Terengganu 1 Negri 3
2009 Malaysia Cup: Negri 1 Terengganu 0
2009 Malaysia Cup: Negri 2 Terengganu 0
2009 Malaysia Cup: Terengganu 0 Negri 1