PETALING JAYA: Underdogs Penang are going great guns in the Premier League, despite fielding mostly “discards”, as they seek a return to top flight action this season.
Head coach K. Devan said promotion is not impossible based on the team’s positive start. Penang are second behind leaders Police on goal difference. Both teams are on 19 points.
“It is an unexpected position but we will continue to push forward,” said Devan on Sunday.
The former Negri Sembilan and Felda United coach admitted that they have a tough game on Monday – against Kedah – at the City Stadium.
“Many consider us as underdogs as we have no star players. Those who are with us had been rejected by other teams. We have taken them on board and hope they will prove their detractors wrong. Kedah are an established side with several prominent players, such as Khyril Muhymeen and Baddrol Bakhtiar,” said Devan.
One of the “discards” in the Penang side is 33-year-old Mohd Azizan Baba, whose contract with Super League side Sarawak was not renewed this year.
Goalkeeper G. Jeevanathan and defensive midielder G. Mahathevan were dropped by Armed Forces and T-Team respectively but have found regular starting roles in the Penang team.
Devan said that the local-bred players have also made a strong contribution, including the likes of midfielders Elias Sulaiman and Mohd Zharif Hasna, striker Mohd Baser Napae and defender Fakhrul Radzi Yaacob.
The foreign signings too have been influential in the team’s strong showing, especially five-goal hero Lee Kil-hoon of South Korea. The other foreigners in the team are strikers Hilton Moreira of Brazil and Titi Buengo of Angola, and defender Lee Kwang-hyun of South Korea.
Penang, who have been in the doldrums for a decade now, won promotion to the Premier League from the FAM Cup last season.