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Monday June 1, 2009

We are still in title hunt, says Irfan

ALOR SETAR: Perlis insist that they have not blown their Super League title hopes after twice slipping up the chances to regain the top spot in the standings.

Following a surprise 0-2 home defeat by Terengganu on May 23, the Northern Lions followed it up with a goalless draw against fourth-placed Kedah here on Saturday night.

The match, which was originally scheduled for June 23, had to be brought forward due to Kedah’s commitment in the AFC Cup second round.

The meagre haul of one point from the last two matches has left Perlis remaining in second spot and a point behind leaders Selangor, who have a match in hand.

But coach Irfan Bakti (pic) is adamant that his team are capable of utilising the remaining eight matches to overhaul the Red Giants in the title run-in.

“Compared to the disastrous loss against Terengganu, I am not disappointed with the draw in Kedah as my players put on an improved performance.

“We may have blown the chance to return to the top of the table but we are still close enough to remain in the title chase,” he said.

“Perlis have the opportunity to set things right in the remaining matches. Even (Selangor coach K.) Devan had said that he saw Perlis as the biggest threat to his team’s quest for the title.

“One of our remaining matches is against Selangor (on June 27 in Kangar) and this match could prove crucial in determining the league champions.”

In the first round in February, Selangor edged Perlis 2-1 in Shah Alam and the Red Giants also ousted the Northern Lions 3-2 on aggregate in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Currently, Irfan’s biggest problem is his misfiring frontline. Perlis, with 25 goals from 18 league matches, have the second lowest scoring rate in the top half of the Super League standings. Among their forwards are Nizaruddin Yusof, Firdaus Faudzi, Ahmad Fakri Saarani and Mohd Hazwan Zainun.

“The team are creating enough scoring opportunities but the correct final pass is currently missing from Perlis’ game,” he said.

Perlis have more than two weeks to work on their goal-scoring woes. Their next match is against struggling Pahang in Kuantan on June 16.

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