MSL talking points: Kedah go off-screen, Selangor make money plea

Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) two wins, including against challengers Pahang, have opened up a 11-point gap at the Malaysia Super League summit with six matches left to play. Elsewhere, Felda United are on the rise while Kelantan are struggling...

‘NOT US ON TV AGAIN PLEASE’

MSL broadcast partners Media Prima had initially planned to air Selangor’s visit to Alor Setar to face second-placed Kedah but later changed their coverage to the JDT-Sarawak tie following a request by the Red Eagles.

Kedah did not want a third consecutive home tie aired live, claiming it was affecting ticket sales at matches.

To put things into perspective, Kedah had less fans attending matches against Perak and Melaka put together than the tie against Selangor. Only 7,656 fans attended the MSL tie against Perak while 4,500 were at the Malaysia Cup opening match on July 4.

As many 18,000 attended the Kedah-Selangor tie on Saturday but it was still short of a full capacity 25,000 spectators.

There were groups of Kedah fans who called for a boycott of the match, claiming Kedah were not considerate of fans who had no means to attend matches or were living away from the state.

JDT only managed 10,126 fans against Sarawak on Saturday while a meagre 8,053 attended the top of the table clash between Pahang and JDT on July 11. Both matches were televised live on Media Prima.

UNSTOPPABLE JDT

All attention were turned towards Pahang as to whether they could keep the MSL title race open by defeating to JDT in Kuantan.

The Elephants failed and were punished as early as the second minute by Gonzalo Cabrera. The Southern Tigers never looked like losing the tie and prevailed 2-0 to end Pahang’s faint title hopes by increasing the margin to 12 points.

Kedah were still nine points below but the Southern Tigers later increased that gap to 11 points after defeating Sarawak 3-1 with a comprehensive display as Kedah were held 1-1 at home by Selangor.

Considering the form of the teams, JDT are expected to be crowned champions when they play Selangor at Selayang Stadium on August 5.

JDT visit T-Team next followed by a tie against Kelantan at Larkin Stadium before coming up against the Red Giants. Two wins and a draw will suffice for a record fourth straight league title.

FELDA ON A RUN

Last year's runners-up Felda have hit form at the right time with five straight wins in the MSL.

Having struggled at the start of the season, B. Satiananthan's appointment in February is reaping fruits and the Fighters could finish as high as second if they continue to get results.

Felda recorded a 5-1 win over T-Team on Saturday after goals from Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor, Ifedayo Olesugon and a Thiago Fernandes hattrick.

Felda, whose defence is only be bettered by JDT, moved up to fourth and are only two points away from second-place Kedah (28 points).

Fifth and sixth-placed Selangor and Perak, who are both on 24 points, are also in the running to finish bridesmaids to JDT.

KELANTAN WOES

Their off-field problems have been well documented and Kelantan are unable to find any solace on the pitch either.

Perak consigned the Red Warriors to a third straight defeat following a 2-0 win in Kota Bharu, once a fortress for the East Coast side.

Kelantan, who also lost to Sarawak and T-Team in recent weeks, are edging closer to the relegation battle and may find themselves further down than eighth if PKNS, Sarawak and Melaka pick up more points.

Kelantan are on 17 points with six matches remaining, followed by PKNS (15), Sarawak (14), Melaka (12) and Penang (9).

There was also crowd trouble at the end of the match as fans hurled objects at each. The authorities managed to contain the situation and prevent a repeat of the 2009 incident, where all hell broke loose.

SELANGOR’S PLEA FOR MONEY

Football Association of Selangor (FAS) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal made a plea to the state government to provide funds on Thursday.

The state government had withdrawn funding in 2017 after Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali ended his tenure as FAS president last year following a fallout with several other office bearers.

Having taken over leadership of Selangor, Subahan has operated Selangor on a tight-budget compared to previous years.

"Last year they funded us to the tune of RM 25 million, this year we're only asking for RM5 million … I've slashed this year's budget to RM 15 million and we're only asking for a third of this amount," said Subahan, reported Goal.com

While state funding may not be the way to go moving forward, Subahan went on to explain that it was only a temporary measure as it was difficult going from RM25million from the state coffers to absolutely nothing.

The Red Giants have somewhat exceeded expectations this year. Expected to struggle and even tipped for the relegation battle by FourFourTwo, P. Maniam’s charges find themselves in fifth after 16 matches. Selangor could finish as high as second come the end of the season in October.