PDRM vs Terengganu: Can Mulvey mastermind turnaround?
Mike Mulvey’s opportunity to win back the fans.
Mike Mulvey will be under the microscope with Terengganu’s demanding fans again unhappy with the coach with whom they are frustrated over his tactics
A portion of fans think that the Terengganu FA (TFA) made a wrong decision by promoting Mulvey from assistant trainer to chief coach after sacking Ahmad Yusof.
It will be Mulvey’s fifth match in-charge and he cannot afford another setback after the 4-1 mauling inflicted by Felda United on April 4.
The team have been inconsistent and Mulvey has also faced issues with injuries in his squad. One thing is for sure, the Englishman needs time to work his magic on Terengganu as his players are still struggling to understand his tactics.
But whether the FA is willing to give him the time he needs remains to be seen. Terengganu have invested a lot on players and their fans expect them to make an impression this season.
Mulvey may opt for a different line-up by starting with experience players such as national player Joseph Kalang Tie, former captain Ismail Faruqi Asha’ari and Argentine striker Juan Jose Morales. Midfielder Sharin Sapien is out after suffering from an injury against Felda while Argentine Gustavo Lopez is doubtful.
For PDRM, they go into the match without any pressure as coach Fauzi Pilus is only using the season to groom players for the future following the management’s decision to cut their budget.
The former Premier League champions bounced back from three straight defeats (in all competitions) to record their first away win by overcoming Pahang 2-0 in a Malaysian Super League match in Kuantan on April 5.
Fauzi’s team will be motivated to get their season kicking again and they believe Terengganu will be their next victim.
Key battle: Ashfaq Ali vs Vincent Bikana
Ashfaq Ali has scored four of six goals for PDRM in the league and the club will be depending heavily on him to terrorise Terengganu’s defence, led by Cameroonian Vincent Bikana.
The Maldives-born striker can score from half-chances and he also uses his speed and close ball control to good effect to penetrate into his opponent’s penalty box.
Ashfaq may not have a quality partner in attack compared to the previous seasons with PDRM but the 31-year-old is slowly getting the groove with the younger players in the team.
Bikana reads the game well but the defender has faced issues in the past containing speedy opponents, occasionally proving sluggish on the turn and tends to commits fouls. An interesting battle is on the cards between Bikana and Ashfaq.
Fact and figures
Ashfaq Ali has scored 45 goals in 68 appearances for PDRM since joining the club in 2014 and the striker rarely gives interviews.
Both teams met twice last season with PDRM winning 3-1 at home and then losing 1-0 away with Terengganu’s Issey Nakajima-Farran scoring a goal in each game.
Youngster Amirul Syahmi Asha’ri and Issey Nakajima-Farran are Terengganu’s joint top scorers with two goals each.
PDRM 1 Terengganu 2. If Terengganu can contain Ashfaq Ali and Andrezinho and avoid losing concentration then Mulvey’s side should easily earn three points.