FFT's MSL Preview: Perak

For Perak, 2015 was something of a roller-coaster season and a little more consistency would go down very well with fans in Ipoh.

TEAM PROFILE

It all started so well. By the first weekend of May last season, Perak were in the top four after back-to-back wins over the teams that would eventually finish one and two: Johor Darul Ta’zim and Selangor.

PERAK'S 2016 TRANSFERS

IN:

  • Oybek Kilichev (Paykan)
  • Elias (Busan Park)
  • Vokhid Shodiev (Bunyodkor)
  • Fazrul Hazli Kadri (ATM)
  • Shahrul Saad (Felda)
  • Kenny Pallraj (Harimau Muda)
  • Nazirul Naim Che Hashim (Harimau Muda)
  • Hafizul Hakim Khirul.

OUT:

  • Charles Chad
  • Horace James
  • Namkung Woong
  • Bobby Gonzales
  • Idris Ahmad
  • Tuah Iskandar Jamaluddin
  • Azizon Abdul Kadir
  • Azmizi Azmi
  • Sumardi Hajalan
  • Hairol Fazreen Abu Hassan
  • Hamizul Izaidi Zulkifli
  • S. Vikneswaren
  • Haris Safwan Kamal

In July, a top three finish looked possible. But then it all went wrong. It all went very wrong indeed.

The Bos Gaurus picked up just one point from their final eight games of the season.

You read that correctly – seven of their last eight games ended in defeat, a stretch that cost coach M Karathu his job. Vjeran Simunic, the man Karathu had replaced in January 2015, came back to finish the season. The Croatian then gave way to Syamsul Saad, a former player, in November.

It was as unstable a year as it is possible for a club to have and not be relegated. Had the season been a few games longer, or the bottom teams not quite so poor, then it may have become touch and go for a while. It remains to be seen if there is a hangover from the nightmare end to 2015 and much of that depends on the new coach.

He does not have much experience and perhaps it is best that there is a new pair of hands at the helm. Syamsul has a big job. A poor start to the season and there will be plenty of nerves around. Those seven losses are not long ago and confidence is still fragile.

There is at least satisfaction that the foreign contingent is full. There are Brazilians at either end of the pitch. At the back is Thiago Junior Aquino, a big centre-back who is preparing for his second full season with the club. At the pointy end is Elias, who arrives from the newly-relegated South Korean team Busan I'Park.

Elias will be lining up in attack with Uzbekistan striker Vokhid Shodiev who has been signed from Bunyodkor, perhaps the biggest club in the whole of Central Asia. Shodiev will have some company from the homeland in the shape of midfielder Oybek Kilichev. How they settle could have a major impact on what kind of season Perak will have. They may not have much time.

Of the local new boys, there will be many keeping an eye of Nazirul Naim Che Hashim. The 22-year-old impressed at the left-back position for Harimau Muda A and if he can do the same at Perak then new national team coach Ong Kim Swee, a fan of the player, will be selecting him for the senior side.

But first it is important for the team to get a solid start, put the end of 2015 behind it, and then Perak will be able to look forward with some confidence.

FFT'S MSL PREDICTION: 5th

Young and energetic, they even led the MSL at one stage last year but were undone by injuries.

KEEP CLICKING BELOW FOR OUR COMPREHENSIVE PERAK PREVIEW

COACH CORNER – Syamsul Saad

He is one of the MSL's youngest coaches and he is guiding one of the competition's youngest squads.

Read his thoughts on the year ahead here.

STAR MAN – Elias

Perak's new Brazilian import never managed to settle in the K-League in 2015. So how are his fortunes looking in Malaysia?

Click here to find out.

VIEW FROM THE FANS

The coach might be confident about the season to come, but it's fair to say this fan doesn't share those sentiments.

Click here for his feelings about 2016.

THE YOUNG GUN – Muhammad Firdaus

We could have selected any number of Perak's youthful squad for this season. But we opted for outstanding prospect Firdaus.

Read what the coach is expecting from him this season right here.

Photo: Perak FA