Seven games to go: What you need to know about the Super League promotion race

With several Malaysian Premier League teams in the reckoning for the two automatic promotion spots, Darren Goon checks out the top contenders hoping to rub shoulders with the Super League big boys next year… 

Although seven rounds of matches seem pretty far off, the nature of this season’s delayed fixture list sees all 12 Premier League teams completing these games in a compact 22-day period, a schedule almost as tight as the gap between the current top two (one point). Since the league switched to a 12-team format in 2010, only the last two seasons have seen the teams finishing in first and second place amass 50 points and above, with the gap between second and third spot fluctuating from one point (2012) to nine points (2011 and 2013). As it is, only the current top three can reach that magical number, so do the other challengers stand a chance of earning promotion? Read on to find out.

Stats are correct as of July 29


Kedah (34 points, +14)

What are their chances?

Kedah are the team to beat. 10 rounds ago, they were languishing in the bottom half of the table with just one victory, but a run of nine wins in those 10 games saw them claim pole position from T-Team just before the break. But wait, it gets better. They have four consecutive home games to look forward to once the league resumes, and one would not bet against a side that has gathered so much momentum.

Who’s going to get them up?

Normally, it’s hard to look beyond one-club man Baddrol Bakhtiar, but Kedah’s route to the top has been a true team effort. Their Captain Consistent, Khairul Helmi Johari, has been ever-present at the back, while April signings Liridon Krasniqi and Sandro Mendonça have reenergised the team’s attack. The youngsters have also played their part, such as Syafiq Ahmad who has four goals in four games.

Super League survival prospects?

The Red Eagles stand a realistic chance of survival. Tan Cheng Hoe’s side already showed in last season’s run to the Malaysia Cup semi-finals that they can mix with Super League teams, and a year on, his boys might have what it takes to finally return to the top tier for the first time since 2012.

T-Team (33 points, +17)

What are their chances?

Good. T-Team started the league horribly, failing to score a goal in their opening three matches, before rattling in a whopping 33 goals in their next 11 games (an average of three per game) to leap from 11th to the top of the league standings. They held the top spot for eight rounds until a defeat to Kedah just before the break ended their 13-match unbeaten run. On a positive note, the Titans have the most favourable run-in among the top six teams, one that sees them play five teams in the bottom half of the table.

Who’s going to get them up?

Initially, one could not see past Farhod Tadjiyev firing T-Team to the title. The 29-year-old had scored 15 goals in nine consecutive matches (no mean feat, even in the Malaysian second division) to lead the scoring charts and fire his team to the top of the table. But the Uzbek striker suffered an ACL injury against Kedah and will be out of action for almost four months. Having also lost the late David Oniya to a heart attack, the Titans will announce a new replacement foreign striker soon, but it remains to be seen if he can match Tadjiyev’s exploits up front.

Super League survival prospects?

Strong. T-Team have a good mix of young players and seasoned campaigners, while several academy players have been promoted in recent matches. This is a team that lacks star players, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.