PDRM vs Pahang: Can the defending champions stop the rot?

Malaysia Cup | Shah Alam Stadium | Tue Oct 27 | 8.45pm

Billed as

An unlikely battle for Cup survival

The lowdown

Both teams were expected to cruise in Group D. Malaysia Premier League (MPL) sides PKNS and Penang were not expected to pose many problems.

Yet, there is still all to play for with two matches left in the group and both Malaysia Super League (MSL) sides need to avoid an embarrassing exit in the group stages.

The visitors could actually seal qualification to the last eight with a win (if PKNS defeats Penang in Selayang) but looking at recent matches, the Elephants are not the team you would put your money on. Two back-to-back 4-1 defeats to Penang and PKNS have stunned even the most pessimistic of fans.

The two-time defending champions seem to be in a crisis despite no major injury concerns. On the bright side, Pahang have responded well to early struggles in previous editions. Pahang must get something out of the match or risk having their fate slip out of their hands.

Ali Ashfaq is PDRM's attacking talisman

The Cops have failed to repeat last year’s showing despite boasting an impressive attacking line-up. Only Pahang and Selangor scored more goals in the MSL but PDRM’s defence is a different story altogether – conceding a whooping 39 in 22 matches.

Fauzi Pilus’ charges need to hit the ground running to stand a chance against Pahang, who are expected to come out with all guns blazing. Considering Pahang’s defensive woes, the Cops could well hope for early goals to get a good advantage as the match progresses.

Both teams matched each other goal for goal in the early fixture until Dickson Nwakaeme’s 79th strike gave Pahang a 4-3 win in Kuantan.

Team news

Matias Conti made the bench last time out and could resume his partnership with Nwakaeme up front after shrugging off a hamstring injury. The Argentine’s return could allow Nwakaeme more freedom to roam and that is when the Nigerian is at his best.

Former Harimau Muda winger D Saarvindran is also back in the team after an ankle injury. His return gives Zainal Abidin Hassan options on the bench.

Both teams do not have any suspensions.

Conti could partner up with Nwakaeme once again

Player to watch: Dickson Nwakaeme

Pahang need game changers and the 29-year-old is certainly a prime example of such a player. With Conti back, Nwakaeme’s ability to dance through challenges and attract more players to him could free up his strike partner.

Nwakaeme is also no stranger to goals. He bagged nine goals this MSL season to help Pahang finish only two points behind winner Johor Darul Ta’zim and has scored three in this competition already.

When the Nigerian is on form, there is no stopping him. Even the best defences struggle to cope with his sheer power, so what chance does a leaky PDRM defence have?

Facts and figures

  • PDRM have not beaten Pahang in any competition since 2012, managing only two draws in seven attempts.
  • Pahang have scored 10 goals in teams’ previous three meetings in 2015 while the Cops managed six.
  • Pahang have not lost more than twice in a row since 2011, where they suffered five back-to-back defeats in the MSL and were relegated to the MPL.

FourFourTwo prediction

PDRM 1 Pahang 3: When the going gets tough, the tough get going for Pahang. They have showed it over and over again in their last two Malaysia Cup winning campaigns.