Tight battle for three teams to avoid relegation

  • Football
  • Friday, 28 Jun 2019

Joint forces: Two PKNP players try to get the ball away from Johor Darul Ta’zim’s Gonzalo Cabrera during the match in Manjung on June 14. JDT won 2-0. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: With Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) sealing their sixth straight Super League title, the focus is now on three teams fighting for survival.

The teams are PKNP, Felda United and Kuala Lumpur.

PKNP coach Abu Bakar Fadzim knew his team would be battling to avoid the drop as they had to rely on President and Youth Cup players due to the clubs’ shoestring budget.

Abu Bakar added that if they are relegated, there is a high possibility the club will be disbanded.

“Right now the odds are heavily stacked against us. We have four games left and if we win them all we’ll have 26 points, more than enough to remain in the league,” said Abu Bakar.

“Players who show desire and character will survive, I always tell this to my players. So it’s up to them now.”

In their last three games, the Gladiators faced tough oppositions – JDT, second-placed Pahang and eighth placed PKNS – and managed to pick up only two points.

However, Abu Bakar was encouraged by his boys’ fighting spirit.

“We held JDT 1-1 and lost to Pahang 2-0 but they played like warriors against two of the best sides in the league.

“Against PKNS, we were leading 2-1 but a penalty in the last minutes of the game dashed our hopes of collecting full points.

“The next four games will be crucial. They are now under tremendous pressure, they need to be mentally strong.”

The Manjung-based side will face Kedah (July 5), Melaka (July 9) Felda United (July 14) and Petaling Jaya City (July 21).

PKNP are a rung above bottom-placed Felda in the 12-team standings with 14 points and are only separated by goal difference with Kuala Lumpur who are 10th.

“PJ City (ninth) and PKNS just need one win to be safe. The bottom three will have to fight tooth and nail to survive.

“We have been in the Malaysian League for four years now.

“I hope we get to stay for another season.

“You can say that I’m hoping against hope but I have belief that my boys can pull this off.”

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