Holders Kelantan and Selangor cannot afford any more slip-ups

Selangor midfielder K. Gurusamy (left) vying for the ball with Sime Darby

PETALING JAYA: Selangor, the 32-time champions, and title holders Kelantan may find themselves out of the Malaysia Cup after tonight’s penultimate group matches.

The Red Giants look doomed to end the season without a silverware for the third consecutive year unless they stage a fightback and win their remaining two matches to keep their slim quarter-final hopes alive.

Selangor’s fate, however, is not in their hands any more.

Selangor, now under caretaker coach P. Maniam, are bottom of Group A with just two points from four matches.

Leaders Armed Forces and Sime Darby FC are tied on seven points apiece while Johor are third on five points.

To finish runners-up, Selangor must beat Forces at the Selayang Stadium tonight and Johor at home on Saturday.

At the same time, Selangor need a huge favour from Sime Darby to win both their remaining fixtures against Johor tonight and Forces on Saturday.
Maniam, however, is not one to give up easily.

“We still have a mathematical chance to make the cut. All we need to do is win both our matches. I have full confidence in the team. What happens elsewhere is beyond our control. The important thing is we must not lose hope,” said the former international.

The only drawback for Maniam is that he will be without two key players. Centreback Nasriq Baharom is out on suspension and rightback Mahalli Jasuli is down with a knee injury.

“We will reshuffle the line-up, but it will not be a problem,” said Maniam.

Kelantan are also in a precarious position in Group C. They are third in Group C with five points, behind surprise package Negri Sembilan (seven) and second-placed Pahang (five). Terengganu are bottom on four points.

The Red Warriors have a big game tonight. They need to beat arch-rivals Terengganu in the east coast derby at the Sultan Ismail Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.

With the Turtles a hard nut to crack at home, Kelantan may just find themselves in the cold after reaching the finals for three times in the last four seasons.
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