August madness: What you need to know about the teams fighting for the MSL title

With just seven gameweeks remaining – all jam-packed into the month of August – Lee Seng Foo takes a look at the teams vying to lift the coveted Malaysian Super League trophy come the end of the season...

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Managers and coaches often say a title race is a marathon, but come August, the tussle for the Malaysian Super League title will be a full-on sprint to the finish line, with seven rounds of matches being played within 22 days. Every team bar ATM and Sime Darby can still mathematically win it, but realistically, which teams are capable of becoming the champions? Find out now.

Stats are correct as of July 30


Pahang (33 pts, +12)

Pahang's remaining opponents

GW16 - Sime Darby (A)

GW17 - ATM (H)

GW18 - LionsXII (A)

GW19 - Kelantan (H)

GW20 - Perak (A)

GW21 - Felda United (H)

GW22 - Terengganu (A)

What are their chances?

It seems highly likely that the Super League title will finally be coming back to Kuantan after 11 years. Unbeaten in the league since April 3, it is possible that the Elephants can extend the run until the end of the season. Against the final seven teams they will face, they picked up 18 points out of a possible 21 in the reverse fixtures earlier this season. The only potential banana skin encounters for them are the away ties at the LionsXII, Perak and Terengganu especially because Zainal Abidin Hassan’s side are susceptible when playing away from home – they have dropped eight points on the road compared to just half of that amount at the Darul Makmur Stadium.

Who’s going to win it for them?

Due to his defensive role, Zesh Rehman might be held in less esteem than the likes of Matias Conti, Dickson Nwakaeme and R. Gopinathan, but the Pakistani has been one of Pahang’s best players this season, especially when he is being played as a central midfielder. Using his experience of playing in England and around Asia, he has acted as a shield for Pahang’s back four and allowed his more attacking team-mates to be more aggressive in offense. Rehman has also chipped in with four league goals so far.

Did you know?

Since 2013 when the number of teams was reduced to 12, a team only need a total of around 44 points to win the league. Therefore, statistically speaking, Pahang might only need 11 points out of a possible 21 to wrest the title from JDT.

Johor Darul Ta’zim (31 pts, +11)

JDT's remaining opponents

GW16 - Sarawak (A)

GW17 - Sime Darby (H)

GW18 - ATM (A)

GW19 - LionsXII (H)

GW20 - Kelantan (A)

GW21 - Perak (H)

GW22 - Felda United (A)

What are their chances?

The only team within striking distance of Pahang, the Southern Tigers can push the title race to the final day if they can match the Elephants’ results all the way, which they are more than capable of pulling it off. JDT have a slightly more favourable fixture list than the current league leaders – the average position of their remaining opponents is at 7.9 compared to Pahang’s 7.6. Their biggest concern, however, is whether or not most of their players will be fit to play. The likes of Hariss Harun, Junior Eldstal, Marcos Antonio and Luciano Figueroa might struggle to cope with the hectic schedule, having just returned from their respective injuries, while Patito Rodriguez remains their only long-term absentee.

Who’s going to win it for them?

Safiq Rahim is fully expected to play a crucial role for JDT as they aim to defend their title. Entrusted to be the creative fulcrum for his side, Safiq has been involved with 36.7% of his side's total goals in the league, scoring five and creating three. He has also started in all but one league match for JDT - a 1-0 defeat to PDRM in February.

Did you know?

Heading into the final month of the league season, Mario Gomez has the highest points per game average with 2.67 for JDT, followed by Bojan Hodak (2.15 pts), Fandi Ahmad (1.82 pts) and Cesar Ferrando (1.46 pts).