Group A: MK Land and Kedah fight to stay in the hunt


BY S. SIVABALAN

Hasmawi Hassan (left) will spearhead Kedah's attack against MK Land in the absence of top striker Akmal Rizal Rakhli.

PETALING JAYA: Kedah and MK Land will clash at the Darulaman Stadium tomorrow in Alor Star in a match tipped to decide who will keep the heat on Selangor in the chase for the promotion spot from Group A of the Premier League. 

And both the coaches – Kedah’s Azraai Khor Abdullah and MK Land’s Khan Hung Meng – are confident that their side will chalk up a win and maintain their promotion dream to the Super League. 

Both MK Land and Kedah have 30 points – seven behind leaders Selangor who have played one game more. But MK Land are in second spot with a better goal difference. 

For Kedah to snatch victory, they will definitely have to lift their performance. Last week, they could only manage a 1-1 draw against Brunei. 

But the odds are in Kedah’s favour. They defeated MK Land 3-2 at home in the second round in March and the first-round match in Shah Alam ended in a goalless draw. 

“It is an important match. A draw will not be good for either side,” said Azraai. 

“It is good that we have home ground advantage. I am sure the players will be inspired to play well with the strong support behind them. 

“MK Land have proven to be strong contenders this season. If my players lose concentration, they will be punished. This must not happen because losing ground against Selangor at this juncture will be big blow to our Super League aspirations.” 

For the match, Kedah will be without their top striker Akmal Rizal Rakhli, who has scored six goals this season, but Azraai is not losing any sleep over it. 

“Akmal is nursing a knee injury. We have played a number of matches without him this season. And the other players have stepped up to the plate and done well. So I am not worried that he is not playing,” he said.  

Hasmawi Hassan will spearhead the attack in Akmal’s absence. 

Meanwhile, Hung Meng defended his decision to allow three of his players – St Kitts and Nevis international Marlon Alex James, Maroslav Toth of Slovakia and Mohd Noor Derus – to feature for the Selangor Selection team in the Sultan of Selangor’s Cup match against Singapore on Sunday. 

“I rested all three of them during the FA Cup match against Perak Jenderata last Wednesday. They needed some match practice to get ready for the match against Kedah,” said Hung Meng. 

“They only played 45 minutes and there is no cause for concern over fatigue.” 

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