2014 Malaysia Cup team preview: Terengganu
Home Ground: Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium, Kuala Terengganu
Nickname: The Turtles
Super League: 4th
FA Cup: Second Round
Last Season's Malaysia Cup: Group stages
What happened in the league?
After a disappointing 2013 in which they finished 9th, it was a much more satisfying season this time round for Terengganu as they improved by five places. The key to their success was a blistering start to their campaign, losing only two games out of their first eight and getting some impressive results along the way. That set the tone for a successive season as they ended the season on a high, including scoring three goals in eight minutes in a brilliant 3-2 comeback victory against Kelantan at their own den.
They are one of the most improved sides in Malaysian football, having completed an FA Cup and Super League double (as well just missing out on the Malaysia Cup) in 2011 before finishing 5th the following year.
They proved that a poor season 2013 was a mere blip as they finished 4th, just eight points behind eventual league winners JDT. The impressive results that they got against strong sides like the LionsXII, Kelantan and JDT proved that they belong to the big boys.
One thing that the Turtles do not lack is firepower. Scoring 38 goals in 22 games, they have the second-best attack in the league. Off-season recruit Norfarhan Muhammad grabbed seven goals for himself, while mid-season signings Javier Estupinan and Moustapha Dabo have forged together a fearsome attacking partnership.
While they have a decent defensive record with goalkeeper Sharbinee Allawee keeping five clean sheets (joint-second highest in the league), they kept no clean sheets in the last 12 games of the league campaign, which is something they need to work on to achieve greater heights.
The player to watch
The obvious threat is Javier Estupinan. While he has not scored many goals as he would like to since his mid-season arrival, the Columbian forward has proved to be a real asset to the side with his 1.9m frame. His presence in attack also allows the supporting cast of Zairo Anuar and Norfarhan to steal the show.
Abdul Rahman Ibrahim is one of the most experienced tacticians in Malaysian football, having no less than 30 years of coaching and boasting a reputation of galvanising unfancied sides together to achieve extraordinary results. After leading them to the 1998 Cup final in his previous stint with the Turtles, another strong performance in this year’s edition will strengthen his legacy in Kuala Terengganu.
Group stage fixtures
Aug 14 – Sarawak (A)
Aug 20 – Kedah (A)
Aug 23 – Perak (H)
Aug 27 – Perak (A)
Aug 30 – Kedah (H)
Sep 3 – Sarawak (H)