After nearl a three month break from games, the Malaysian Super League returns this weekend. Similarly to other leagues across Asia, the league had gone on pause whilst World Cup Qualifiers took place and AFC Champions League games.
The Malaysian national team finished 3rd out of 5 in Group G, with sides such as UAE, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. They will advance to the Asian Cup third qualifying round, with the third round set to be played across the September, October and November months.
Whilst in AFC Champions League action, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) bowed out of the competition after finishing 3rd in Group G. They won 1, drew 1 and lost 4 out of their 6 games. It is worth mentioning however, that they did have a difficult group. Playing against the likes of Nagoya Grampus from J.League and Pohang Steelers of K League, as well as Thai League side, Ratchaburi
There was due to be AFC Cup action for Kedah and Terengganu as well this month, but the competition has since been cancelled due to Covid-19
Now that those competitions are out of the way for the time being, it is time to the focus back to the domestic league!
Review of Matchweek 13
In order to get back up to speed with everything Malaysia Super League, let us go back through each game from Matchweek 13 to see where teams left off prior to the break.
Sabah FC 0 v 1 Kedah FA
The game started off with Kedah dominating the opening 20 minutes. Liberian forward Kpah Sherman, was the biggest attacking threat, creating chances both for himself and his teammates with his strength and speed. Mohd Amri Yahyah tried an audacious shot from the half way line for Sabah, when he spotted Shahril Saa'ri off his line, only missing by fine margins as he sent the Kedah keeper scrambling. Whilst there was plenty opportunities for both sides throughout the game to score, most chances were squandered, with the torrential weather potentially playing a large part in that. Kedah came close after half time, when they recieved a freekick outside of the box which nearly went into the bottom left corner until Sabah goalkeeper Rendy Rining just got a hand to it to push it out of play. But the opening goal and only goal of the game came in 79th minute when a through ball was played into the aforementioned Kpah Sherman, who made the most of a failed defensive clearance to slot it into the back of the net. The win was important for Kedah as they look to chase title contenders JDT and Terengganu.
UiTM 1 v 1 Kuala Lumpur
Whilst both sides had chances in the game, it was Kuala Lumpur City who dominated the game in terms of possession and chances created. Despite City's attacking prowess, UiTM's 22 year old goalkeeper Azfar Arif, had an oustanding performance, pulling off some top quality saves to keep his side in it. He continued to do so in the second half, as well as the defenders in front of him. Throwing themselves into every shot and clearing any ball which came into the box. They would've thought their efforts had paid off when UiTM were awarded a penalty in the 83rd minute when their player was brought down in the box. Korean Kwon Yong-hyun stepped up to take the honours and saw his penalty saved at first before the rebound fell fortuitously at his feet, allowing him to dispatch the ball into the net. But Kuala Lumpur weren't about to give up. In the dying moments of the game Kuala Lumpur were awarded a penalty about 25 yards out from goal, Paulo Josué swung the ball deep into the box and Shukor Adan headed the ball into the bottom left corner. However, UiTM players were outraged. Rushing over to the referee, claiming handball. After watching the highlights, it does show that Adan scored the goal with his hand, so UiTM were rightfully frustrated as that was the last action of the game and made it finish 1-1. UiTM so close to getting their first win of the season.
Penang FA 0 v 3 Johor Darul Ta'zim
The game between these two sides was quite equal at the start of the game, with both teams playing a high press. But the opening goal was scored in the 15th minute when JDT midfielder Safiq Rahim, sent in a deep long ball from the halfway line which Safawi Rasid ran onto from the right wing and cooly placed it past the keeper. There were some calls from Penang players that Rasid was offside when the ball was played, but the referee waved away their appeals. Penang tried to get back into the game with their own attempts on goal but, nothing came to fruition. It was just before half time that JDT increased the scoreline. MSL veteran Kunanlan played a through ball inbetween the defence for Brazilian forward Bergson da Silva to run onto. Bergson took the ball into the box and made a quick turn to throw off the Penang defender, before taking the shot on his left foot to beat the keeper at his near post. After half-time, JDT came out with attacking vigour and desire to score more. They did just that in the 51st minute when Bergson da Silva striked the ball from 25 yards out. Penang goalkeeper Bryan Keat did well to save the shot, but unfortunately pushed the ball towards the incoming Mohamadou Sumareh who had only come on at half time and he made no mistake in slamming the ball into the roof of the net to make it 3-0. Penang did look to get back into the game in the 73rd minute when 22 year old Boboev shot the ball towards goal, but the ball pinged off the post and back into play. In the dying moments of the game, Penang striker Casagrande was given his marching orders after receiving a second yellow. Meaning he will be unavaliable for Penang's game against Kedah this weekend.
Selangor 1 v 2 Terengganu
Terengganu picked up an important three points away to keep the pressure on current top spot rivals JDT. In the first half, they ran at Selangor, trying to go a goal up from the first whistle. Whilst they had some chances to take the lead, they failed to make the most of them. Selangor were awarded a penalty after the referee deemed there had been in shove in the back from Nasir Basharuddin during a corner. Selangor forward Ifedayo Olusegun stepped up to take the penalty and laced it towards the bottom left corner, however Terengganu goalkeeper Mohd Suhaimi, played hero by guessing the correct way and pushed the ball away from danger. However, Selangor weren't about to give up. After half time they came out fighting and recieved another penalty in the 48th minute when a handball was given. Despite his earlier penalty being saved, Olusegun stepped up again and didn't make the same mistake twice as he opened the scoring 1-0 to his side Selangor. Terengganu were not about to let this game slip from their grasp and in the 72nd minute Arif Fadzilah had a shot on goal from 20 yards out which caused the Selangor keeper into making a great save, however the save fell directly in front of Engku Shakir who calmly slotted it past the keeper. With the game at 1-1, Terengganu looked for the winner in the final moments of the game. After being awarded a freekick near the half way line, the defender hit a deep ball into the box which was met by Captain Carli in the 87th minute which proved to be the winner.
Melaka United 0 v 0 PJ City
For the majority of the first half of this game, Melaka dominated possession and attacked City constantly on the wings. However, Melak's goalkeeper Al-Hafiz pulled off some spectatular saves as well as putting himself in danger to clear the ball. The game lacked tempo and energy, with neither side truly committing themselves forward and seemed happy to take a point. Petaling Jaya City did have their own few attempts on goal in the second half, but squandered any opporuntiy given, either by hitting the ball wide or striking it straight at the Melaka goalkeeper. In the end the game finished as expected. However, emphasis must be put on PJ City's goalkeeper, as his performances paid dividend in the end as both sides came away a point and Kalamullah Al-Hafiz got his well deserved cleansheet.
Perak 2 v 3 Pahang
This game was end to end, with most of the excitement coming in the second half. However, it was in the first half and in the 34th minute that Pahang opened the scoring. After a cross into the box and a series of attempted shots, the ball landed for Burmese striker Aung Kaung Mann to bury it into the top left corner. Perak players did complain to the referee, feeling there was a handball in the build up, but the referee waved on. Perak had a big chance themselves before half time, but failed to make it count. It was Pahang who scored next to make it 2-0 in the 58th minute, when Kenny Athiu calmly placed the ball into the bottom corner. However, Perak still had some fight left in them. In the 68th minute they were rewarded a penalty after Hamzah was pushed down in the box. Although there wasn't much in it. Brazilian Dos Santos stepped up and fired the ball into the top corner, giving the Pahang keeper no chance. Despite feeling that they could get back into the game, Pahang scored again to make it 3-1 in the 88th minute when a cross into the box was met by that man again Kenny Athiu who headed it brilliantly into the goal. Perak did get another goal back in the 95th minute through Raianderson volleying it into the net. However, there was no time left in the game for Perak to grab one more to equalise.
There is plenty of action heading into the weekend as the league looks to get back underway. Four games being played on Saturday and two on the Sunday. There is however a quick turn around in games, with matchday 15 commencing next Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th.
Kuala Lumpur v Selangor | Saturday 24th July at 2pm
Terengganu v Perak | Saturday 24th July at 2pm
PJ City v Sabah | Saturday 24th July at 2pm
Kedah FA v Penang FA | Saturday 24th July at 2pm
Johor Darul Ta'Zim v UiTM | Sunday 25th July at 2pm
Pahang v Melaka United | Sunday 25th July at 2pm