2017 MSL Preview: Can Kedah give JDT a run for their money?
Having earned praise for their performance back in the top-flight last year, the Red Eagles will be keen on another successful season under Tan Cheng Hoe. Kedah came third in the MSL, reached the FA Cup last four and won the Malaysia Cup in 2016.
The Northerners have not made major changes to their squad, something Kedah fans have received warmly. Kosovan playmaker Liridon Krasniqi is staying while the club welcomes back Sandro da Silva from a long-term injury.
Former Danish under-21 forward Ken Ilso has also signed. Kedah and Perak were the only domestic teams to defeat JDT across all competitions last year and, on paper, the Red Eagles are the best equipped side to challenge the defending champions for the title.
Coach: Tan Cheng Hoe
Fittingly, he won the 2016 Best Coach award at the Malaysian Football Awards last month. Tan’s stocks have been on the rise since he took charge of Kedah midway through the 2014 season.
The former Malaysia assistant coach not only steadied the ship, but brought back the glory days by winning the 2015 Malaysia Premier League and 2016 Malaysia Cup.
Kedah have transformed their style of play to unlock opponents with their short passing game, something Tan deserves all the credit for. If he continues his rise in 2017, he could find himself in the Malaysian national team hot seat sooner rather than later.