The M-League heads into Week 2 as Terengganu travel to Alor Setar to face Premier League champions Kedah at the Darul Aman Stadium. While significant amount of attention will be focused on the derby match between Selangor and Perak, this particular tie is certainly high up the priority scale as well. There’s a wounded lion in this, and matches involving them are never easy. Some may say especially so when it’s an away game.
THE KEDAH VIEW
The Red Eagles undoubtedly got their season off to a poor start, falling 2-0 to the hands of Irfan Bakti’s Felda United despite showing a few glimpses of what they can offer to the Super League. With the likes of Baddrol Bakhtiar, Sandro and Carlos Kahe, Kedah produced a number of chances to find the back of the net, but things just did not fall into place on Saturday.
Tan Cheng Hoe has been regarded as a popular figure in Kedah ever since he lead the team back to the MSL. He managed only two defeats out of 22 games in Premier League last season and is hoping his home support will inspire him to take Kedah to greater heights this year. The former Kedah player will have to depend on his team’s defensive organization in Ariff Farhan and Bang Seung-Hwan in order to pose a threat to Terengganu.
THE TERENGGANU VIEW
On the other hand, Terengganu managed to gain all three points when they defeated newly-promoted Pulau Pinang 1-0 at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu. However, anyone who witnessed the game would agree that there should have been more goals. The Turtles had 10 shots on goal, one penalty missed and almost complete domination of possession throughout the entire match. Gustavo Lopez, who renewed his contract last year, proved his doubters wrong by scoring from outside the box. He was a dominating presence in midfield and allowed his teammates the time and space to create attacks out of thin air.
Terengganu will not take Kedah lightly when they meet on Tuesday night, because the last time they visited Alor Setar, they were on the wrong side of a 5-0 humiliation. Ahmad Yusof will have to keep an eye on Brazilian Sandro, who scored a hattrick during their Malaysia Cup tie in 2015. The head coach will be relying on the services of Gustavo Lopez, Issey Nakajima-Farran and former national team winger Joseph Kalang Tie to provide some much-needed finishing touches to his side’s play. Expect Juan Jose Morales to be given a bigger role in this, having only played 15 minutes last weekend.
Kedah will be itching to get the MSL campaign back on track, but they’re up against a side that’s widely expected to challenge for the title this year. And they are already showing signs of it – grinding out a pivotal 1-0 win last weekend. But Kedah are complete different side at home, buoyed by their boisterous home fans. Either way, this one is destined to be a close battle.