PBAPP defender Azlan Kakaria (left) tackles KL SPA's Mohd Rosdi Zakaria during their Premier League match last month. The Waterboys take on Penang on Friday night when league action resumes after a 3-week international break. - Filepic
GEORGE TOWN: PBAPP FC coach Yunus Alif admits that his squad face an uphill task as the only all-local outfit in the Premier League.
The Waterboys have yet to win a match after four games in their Premier League debut season, and are second from bottom in the standings with just two points to show.
“It is a disadvantage for PBAPP to take on teams with good foreign players, especially in a season where many Premier League teams have prepared well. If given a choice, I want foreign players during the mid-season transfer window but this decision (to hire foreigners) is not mine to make,” said Yunus on Thursday.
“But looking at the bright side, not having foreign stars means that the youngsters will be thrust into the deep end and they will learn to adapt fast.”
The Penang club side started off well by holding fancied Felda United and Negri Sembilan to 1-1 and 0-0 draws respectively. But they failed to sustain the momentum, going down 0-2 to KL SPA and 0-1 to Johor Darul Ta’zim II in their last two matches before the three-week international break.
“We made a fantastic start with the two draws but the enthusiasm soon fizzled out and the players’ confidence plunged following the two defeats.
“My squad’s inexperience showed when they were rattled under pressure against KL SPA and JDT II. The players’ confidence was shattered but the break did us good as it allowed the coaches to work on the flaws,” said Yunus.
Nothing but a victory will do for Yunus when the Waterboys take on big brothers Penang, second in the league with 12 points, in a derby at the City Stadium on Friday night.
K. Devan’s high-flying Panthers are on a roll after having recorded three wins on the stretch before the break. Despite the 10-point gap between the two teams, Yunus believes that an upset is possible.
“We will start as the underdogs against Penang, who are a much-changed side this year and have good foreign players. But this will not stop us from going all out for a win.
“A victory against Penang is important not only for the three points, but as a morale booster ahead of two tough away assignments next week – against Kedah (Tuesday) and league leaders Police (Friday).”
The sole injury casualty for PBAPP is their main striker K. Ravindran, who is down with a hamstring injury. Yunus is expected to rely on Muhd Zambri Hassan to operate as the lone striker against Penang.