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Five contenders for the 2018 MSL Golden Boot

Lebanese striker Mohamad Ghaddar ran away with the Golden Boot in 2017 but as things stand, he won't be around to defend it. These five forwards will however, and we predict that they will be among the frontrunners for the 2018 Malaysia Super League (MSL) top scorer award... 

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JORGE PEREYRA DIAZ

The Argentine has already won the award in 2016 after bagging 18 league goals in Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) unbeaten campaign.

Diaz scored another 14 in cup competitions to take his total haul to 32 in 34 matches in all competitions that year. He also scored eight in the MSL when he first arrived in 2014.

The 27-year-old forward went on loan to Independiente mid-way through the 2015 season before being shown the door ahead of the 2017 campaign, but he is back to terrorise defences with his pace, dribbing, chance creation and finishing.

GUILHERME DE PAULA

The lanky Brazilian forward is looking more assured as compared to his first season in Malaysia three years ago, where he was part of Selangor’s 2015 Malaysia Cup winning squad.

He wasn’t much of a goal scoring machine then, but he created plenty for teammates Afiq Azmi and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri.

De Paula’s game has evolved into finding the back of the net more regularly - he scored 27 goals as Kuala Lumpur won the second tier Malaysia Premier League (MPL) last year. 

Critics may point to the fact that scoring in the second tier does not equate to banging the goals in at the highest level. 2016 MPL top scorer Ilija Spasojevic failed to deliver in top flight last year, before making the switch to Indonesian side Bhayangkara mid-season, but Francis Forkey Doe proved otherwise in Felda United’s MSL title race in 2016.

The 31-year-old will also have experienced playmaker Indra Putra Mahayuddin playing alongside him to create chances.

De Paula will be out to show his stellar season last year was no fluke. Photo: Asiana.my

PABLO PALLARES

Expectations will be high for the Spaniard as he replaces Danish goal-getter Ken Ilso, who earned the admiration of the fans with his tireless attitude and 15 league goals. Ilso, who has now joined Penang, would have been a strong contender for the Golden Boot award if not for Ghaddar’s extraordinary first half of the season with Kelantan.

Pallares has never played outside Spain but the former Atletico Madrid trainee will find a compatriot in Kedah coach Ramon Marcote, who has previous worked with the Atletico academy.

Kedah fans will be keeping their fingers crossed that videos of the goals Pallares has scored in Spain is something they’ll witness firsthand at the Darul Aman Stadium. Pallares is a poacher inside the penalty box and is good in the air too.

Pallares will hope to be an able replacement for Ilso. Photo: Kedah