MSL Spicy Questions of the Round: Will there be new league leaders?

Craig Morraies previews Round 18 of the Malaysian Super League by examining the key points of each fixture...

Can giant killers Sime Darby stop JDT?

JDT vs Sime Darby | Tuesday June 10 | 8.45pm

JDT have been in fine form since Bojan Hodak took over, recording six wins out of seven league games, in which one of them was a big 1-0 win against league leaders Selangor to close the gap and give the Southern Tigers momentum. Three points against Sime Darby will do well for them, but could we be seeing a twist in the title race? Despite losing 2-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this year, Sime Darby cannot be underestimated especially after earning the “giant killers” moniker in recent years. On top of that, Ismail Zakaria’s men have steadily moved up the table in recent weeks and should have all but kept themselves in league next season.

Will Paulo Rangel rediscover his scoring touch in Terengganu?

Terengganu vs Selangor | Tuesday June 10 | 8.45pm

While most people may consider the title race is now between Selangor and JDT, it is important to take note that Terengganu are only five points away from the top. Back-to-back wins, including an emphatic 4-1 victory at Pahang could just be the tonic they need to give their players confidence to keep plugging away. Selangor, on the other hand, have to immediately regroup after their devastating loss to JDT, and that could depend on his main striker, Paulo Rangel. Despite starting the season with a blistering goal-scoring form, the Brazilian has only found the back of the net once in the last seven league games. With just a two-point lead at the top, Mehmet Durakovic knows he has to set up his team to provide the right ammunition to Rangel, so that his side can avoid any further slips-up.

Another defeat on the horizon for ATM?

ATM vs Pahang | Tuesday June 10 | 8.45pm

ATM's Super League fortunes look very bleak going into this match. 

Newly-crowned FA Cup winners Pahang are without a doubt going into this match in a buoyant mood after defeating Felda United in the FA Cup Final, but it remains to be seen if their celebrations over the weekend have taken its toll. Facing a well-rested but depleted ATM line-up, Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan should be making a few changes to keep the squad fresh, including giving Faizol Hussein a start in this game after his match-winning cameo appearance last Saturday. Meanwhile, we might see ATM coach  B. Sathianathan putting Hairuddin Omar in an unfamiliar defensive position to plug his side's leaky defence.

Which Abu Bakar will come out on top?

PKNS vs Perak | Tuesday June 10 | 8.45pm

After failing to revive PKNS’s fortunes, experienced coach Wan Jamak Wan Hassan has been told to rest with his assistant Anuar Abu Bakar being tasked to guide the club out of the bottom. His first game will not be easy, though, as it is against a rejuvenated Perak side. His Seladang counterpart, Abu Bakar Fadzim, has found the perfect tactic for his team just in the nick of time to guide them out of the relegation zone. With three wins in their last five games, the Bos Gaurus will definitely go into this fixture as the heavy favourites.

Will Kelantan striker Prince Tagoe finally play?

Kelantan vs LionsXII | Tuesday June 10 | 8.45pm

After being knocked out of the FA Cup by Felda United, Kelantan turn their attention back to their Super League campaign. Having impressed since the arrival of George Boateng as new head coach, Kelantan fans will have every reason to feel confident about getting all three points against the LionsXII, who have failed to hit the heights of last season. However, all eyes will be on their new striker Prince Tagoe. While Boateng can still call upon the likes of Francis Forkey Doe and Khairul Izwan Rosli, there is still a lot of questions on the Ghanaian, who has yet to play for his new club after replacing Muhammad Ghaddar in the April transfer window despite already receiving his International Transfer Certificate.

Will the Titans crush Sarawak's walls?

Sarawak vs T-Team | Tuesday June 10 | 8.45pm

After suffering a humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of Perak before the league's short break, Sarawak will be looking to bounce back immediately against T-Team at the home fortress. With S. Chantaru still showing some good form and Ryan Griffiths doing the business up front, it is easy to assume an easy win for the Crocs and undermine the relegation-threatened Titans, but the visitors handed a 2-0 defeat to their hosts earlier this season. On top of that, they surprised many when they beat in-form Kelantan in their last game. Don't bet against them on building on the Kelantan result to stay up in this league.

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