Kuala Lumpur not taking challenge of Armed Forces lightly

Malaysia's Muhammad Syafwan Syahlan (second from left) goes for header in the corner shoot-out while against Vietnam during the AFC U-23 Championship 2016 qualifying round at Shah Alam Stadium on Friday. IZZRAFIQ ALIAS / The Star. March 27, 2015.

PETALING JAYA: As far as Kuala Lumpur coach Ismail Zakaria is concerned nothing is cast in stone in the race for Malaysia Cup berths.

The City boys are almost guaranteed a place as they take on relegation battlers Armed Forces at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium on Tuesday and Sime Darby at the same venue on May 17.

KL are currently third in the 12-team Premier League with 18 points after nine matches. Forces are 12th and Sime Darby 11th. 

Malacca top the table with 21 points, Negri Sembilan are ahead of KL on better goal difference while fourth-placed PKNS and fifth-placed Johor Darul Ta’zim have 16 points each.

Under the new competition format, only the top 11 Super League sides and top five Premier League teams will compete in the 16-team Malaysia Cup at the halfway mark (11 matches).

“We’ll be playing the bottom teams but I don’t take these matches lightly because they can cause an upset. My players have the tendency to take these kind of matches for granted and we had dropped points because of this,” said Ismail.

“We play Forces and Sime Darby in our next four league matches and I want full points from these ties. On paper we are the favourites but in football anything can happen.

“Our target is to win promotion to the Super League and we need to keep the heat on Malacca. We also want Malaysia Cup action after missing out for a number of years.”

The last time KL played in the competition was six years ago in 2011 where they failed to get pass the group stage. KL lifted the Cup during their heydays in 1989.

Ismail said he would likely look for new players when the second transfer window opens from June 28-July 15.

The former Sime Darby coach is not impressed with his strikeforce – Brazilian Casagrande, former international A. Thamil Arasu and Mohd Syafwan Sahlan – as they contributed just 14 goals in the Premier League.

“We are third because of our poor scoring record. I have spoken to the management and they have agreed to look at new players.”

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