PETALING JAYA: Premier II may no longer be in existence next year but the battle for the title in the lower division, which kicks off today, will still be an interesting one.
The FA of Malaysia are contemplating reverting to a single “elite” league next year with fewer teams. Only state teams and clubs with strong financial backing and good track record will be considered for this league next year
And relegated Negri Sembilan look the best bet to make it into any such competition. They seem to be the strongest of the lot in the 12-team competition. Kuala Lumpur will be out to make amends while under-strength Johor, the other state team in the fray will be counting on flamboyant German coach Karl Heinz Weigang to take them back to the top division.
Negri coach K. Devan admits they have the material to bounce back to top flight.
“We have been given top billing and I hope the players deliver. They performed well in the pre-season and I hope they keep it up,'' he said.
|TODAY IN PREMIER II |
KELANTAN JPS vs ARMED FORCES (Sultan Mohamed IV Stadium, Kota Baru - 5pm)
BRUNEI vs SELANGOR PUBLIC BANK (Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium, B. S. Begawan - 8.15pm)
NEGRI SEMBILAN vs KELANTAN SKMK (Stadium Hang Tuah, Malacca - 8.45pm)
SELANGOR MPPJ vs POLICE (MPPJ Stadium, Kelana Jaya - 8.45pm)
PERAK TKN vs JOHOR (Perak Stadium, Ipoh - 8.45pm)
KUALA LUMPUR vs KELANTAN TNB (KL Football Stadium, Cheras - 8.45pm)
Club teams Selangor Public Bank and Selangor MPPJ have also warned that they will be no pushovers and have promised to make their presence felt. They have the financial backing to carry their challenge – and also some household names in their team list.
The bankers, for instance, have snapped up Sutesh Sankaran Nair, S. Paidiyah Rau, Leong Hong Seng, G. Muthu, M. Elango and Mohamed Noor Derus. They also have engaged former Selangor goalkeeper Karel Stromsik to assist coach E. Elavarasan. Milan Strelec and Ivan Ziga from Croatia are their strikers.
MPPJ's football team adviser Datuk Mohd Aini Taib, a former manager of Selangor, is also upbeat about the team's chances of earning promotion. They have a RM3 million, five-year deal with sponsors Kurnia Outdoor Sdn Bhd.
And they have signed ex-internationals like Anuar Abu Bakar, V. Thinagaran, K. Nanthakumar, Azrin Shah Zainal and Khairil Zainal. Last year's top scorer Juan Manuel Arostegui and new signing Bronu Mertelotto, a former Boca Juniors youth player, are expected to pose the threat upfront.
The other teams in the competition include Police, Armed Forces, Kelantan TNB, Kelantan SKMK, Brunei and newcomers Kelantan JPS and Perak TKN.