The FourFourTwo Preview: MSL Gameweek 21

After last weekend’s surprising results, will we see yet another change at the top of the table? The second team to be relegated could also be decided, as the penultimate round of Super League fixtures for 2015 gets underway… 

Pahang vs Felda United

Pahang’s form: DWLWW | Felda United’s form: WLWDL

Last meeting: Felda United 0-1 Pahang (April 2015)  

The Elephants will be kicking themselves after failing to take advantage of JDT’s shock capitulation in Kota Bharu, but on the bright side, their title hopes are in their own hands now. Felda United are a team they know well, having met each other four times over the past 14 months, with Pahang emerging triumphant thrice. However, the Fighters famously beat them 3-2 away from home almost exactly a year ago in the Malaysia Cup group stage, so they will not be cowed by the Darul Makmur Stadium’s roar. Felda will be without the suspended Indra Putra Mahayuddin, while the home team will be boosted by Matthew Davies’ return from suspension. Interestingly, Felda have collected five clean sheets away from home (the highest in the league), but Pahang will be looking to sign off in front of their fans with a positive result.

Sarawak vs LionsXII

Sarawak’s form: DDLDL | LionsXII’s form: DWLWW

Last meeting: LionsXII 1-0 Sarawak (April 2015)

The Crocs will be highly motivated for this match, safe in the knowledge that a point is all that’s required for them to realistically avoid relegation (unless ATM score an avalanche of goals in their final two matches). Despite Ashri Chuchu’s continued absence due to injury, Sarawak’s cause will be helped by their opponents’ spotty form away from the Jalan Besar Stadium, which has seen them win just once on their travels so far. Faris Ramli is currently joint-seventh in the Super League goalscorers’ chart, and he will want to produce an improved display after a disappointing run-out against Selangor on Saturday. Khairul Nizam might be in line for a starting spot, after netting a spectacular acrobatic equaliser in that game.

Johor Darul Ta’zim vs Perak

JDT’s form: LWWWW | Perak’s form: DLLLL

Last meeting: Perak 2-1 JDT (April 2015)  

The Bos Gaurus could play spoiler again, after holding title contenders Pahang to a draw on Saturday. Brought back from the wilderness, Bobby Gonzales now has two goals in as many games, and the 31-year-old will be raring to make up for lost time with a good performance against the reigning champions. Nonetheless, JDT will have every intention of ending the 2015 season with their 100% home record intact, particularly after their defensive horror show against Kelantan. However, they will have to do so without centre-back Marcos Antonio, who will miss the final two games of the season after picking up his sixth yellow card. Fellow defender Asraruddin Putra Omar remains an injury doubt, while Perak’s Woong Namkung could make his return after missing the last three matches through injury.

Perak stunned the Southern Tigers last April

Selangor vs Kelantan

Selangor’s form: DWWDD | Kelantan’s form: WLLDW

Last meeting: Kelantan 2-1 Selangor (April 2015)

Mehmet Durakovic still harbours hopes of finishing third, and with two other teams capable of overtaking them after this round, he knows that only a win is a must against a confident Kelantan side. Afiq Azmi finally broke his 11-match goal drought against Lions XII, and more of the same will be expected of him as Selangor seek revenge after losing the first fixture between these two sides in April. Kelantan will be hampered by a combination of injuries and suspensions, leaving them just over a dozen first-team players available for selection. Brendan Gan and Nazri Ahmad are still long-term absentees, with Fakri Saarani, Amiridzwan Taj, and Wan Zack Haikal joining them on the crock list. Meanwhile, Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Norhazrul Mustapha, as well as imports Austin Amutu and Gilmar da Silva are suspended. Zahasmi Ismail’s side are safe from relegation, but they could still mathematically overtake Perak to eighth spot.

Sime Darby vs ATM

Sime Darby’s form: DDLLL | ATM’s form: DLLLL

Last meeting: ATM 1-1 Sime Darby (April 2015)

Is it still a “relegation six-pointer” if one of the two teams have already been relegated? Time is quickly running out for ATM to escape the drop, and a win against a Sime Darby side with only pride to play for is essential. The Armed Forces will need to muster a monumental effort though, as they have the worst away record of all twelve Super League teams. On a positive note, Abdulafees Abdulsalam has netted in his past two matches, helping snap a seven-match losing run with Saturday’s draw with Sarawak. On the home bench, Sime Darby will be without Abdul Halim Zainal through suspension, but captain Juzaili Samion and Fahrul Razi Kamaruddin should return. The Giant Killers have just two matches left to earn their first win of the season, or risk becoming only the third side in Super League history (after Kuala Lumpur in 2012 and PDRM in 2009) to go through an entire league season without a win.

Terengganu vs PDRM

Terengganu’s form: LWWWW | PDRM’s form: DWWWD

Last meeting: PDRM 3-1 Terengganu (April 2015)

Level on points with 4th-placed Felda United, Terengganu and PDRM will clash knowing that a win could potentially catapult them up to third spot. The Turtles saw their six-game winning run end with a 1-0 loss to Felda on Saturday, and they have two more home games to ensure a positive finishing position after spending much of the season languishing in the bottom half of the table. Issey Nakajima-Farran still has six goals in five games, and Terengganu will be boosted by the return of Zubir Azmi from suspension. PDRM travel to the east coast without talisman Ali Ashfaq after he collected three yellow cards, but Malian striker Dramane Traore has scored in each of his last four matches to extend his tally to 18 goals this season. 

(Pictures: asiana.my)