Defending champions Selangor were drawn with Kelantan, Pahang and city rivals Kuala Lumpur (KL) for the Malaysia Cup, while Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) renew rivalry with Perak.
Zainal Abidin Hassan will get another stern test in his Selangor tenure after a tough Malaysia Cup draw on Monday night.
The Red Giants, who are still trying to find their feet after a coaching change at the end of last season, were pitted together with Kelantan for the second year running.
Malaysia Cup 2016
Group A: T-Team, Kedah, Sarawak, JDT II
Group B: Selangor, Kelantan, Pahang, Kuala Lumpur
Group C: JDT, PDRM, Perak, PKNS
Group D: Felda United, Terengganu, Malacca, Negri Sembilan
Group B will also have Selangor’s 2015 signings Khairul Azhan Khalid, Razman Roslan, Hafiz Kamal and R. Gopinathan return to Pahang, where they won back-to-back Malaysia Cups in 2013 and 2014.
Selangor were also drawn with KL, in what will be a return of the Klang Valley derby for the first time since the 2011 edition, which was also the City Boys’ last appearance in the competition.
“We have a tough group. All three have their strengths. Malaysia Cup often brings out something different from the teams, so we can’t take anything lightly,” said Selangor vice captain Razman Roslan.
Group A will have Malaysia Super League (MSL) surprise package T-Team playing Kedah, Sarawak and JDT II, leaving the Southern club with plenty of traveling time as they will have to head up North, East Coast and fly to Kuching.
“It’s going to be even more challenging because the competition now runs concurrently with the league and fatigue could set in. Having to focus on both fronts could be challenging and the squad will need to be well managed,” JDT II midfielder Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak told TV9.
Last year's league champions JDT were drawn with PKNS for a FA Cup final repeat in Group C alongside PDRM and Perak. JDT and Perak, who were also grouped together last year, have often produced heated affairs marred with crowd violence.
MSL title contenders Felda United were handed arguably the easiest draw in Group D alongside struggling Terengganu and second-tier sides, Malacca and Negri Sembilan.