GEORGE TOWN: Super League basement teams Penang and Sarawak’s hopes of qualifying for the Malaysia Cup will hinge on the results of their matches on Wednesday.
Under the new competition rules, the bottom-placed Super League team at the halfway mark (11 games) will not play in the competition this year.
After 10 games, Penang and Sarawak are at the bottom of the standings with six points each.
The Panthers, who take on league leaders Felda United at the City Stadium, have a better goal difference than the Crocs.
Penang can avoid finishing last by at least matching Sarawak’s outcome against Perak at the State Stadium in Kuching.
Pahang, with nine points, can find themselves dragged to the bottom of the heap if both Penang and Sarawak win, and the Elephants lose to newly crowned FA Cup champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in Larkin.
“The home match against Felda United is like a Cup final for us,” said Penang coach Manzoor Azwira.
“Like everybody else in the Super League, we don’t want to miss out on the Malaysia Cup. Our fate is in our own hands and a victory over Felda will be enough to avoid last place.”
Manzoor believes that Penang can pull off a Houdini act, based on their recent improved performances.
The Panthers were just seconds away from holding the fancied JDT to a goalless draw at the Larkin Stadium in their recent league outing, before conceding a 94th-minute goal.
“We managed to hold Kedah to a draw away from home, and held our own against both Selangor and JDT away before narrowly losing 1-0 in both matches.
“If my players can show the same determination and fighting spirit against Felda, we are capable of pulling off a surprise result. We will go into the match tomorrow aiming for a win. We cannot afford to take any chances because we don’t know what will happen in Kuching,” added Manzoor, who is still seeking his first victory as the Penang head coach.
In their bid to avoid last place at the halfway mark, both Penang and Sarawak changed their coaches in mid-season.
The islanders rested Brazilian Jacksen Tiago and promoted his assistant Manzoor into the hot seat.
Likewise, the Crocs parted ways with former national coach Datuk K. Rajagopal and placed their trust in his assistant David Usop.
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