It is a much awaited clash between the Red Warriors and the Southern Tigers – more so when six former Kelantan players – Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, defenders S. Subramaniam, Daudsu Jamaluddin, Azizi Matt Rose, midfielders Mohd Shakir Shaari and Nurul Azwan Roya – are now with Johor.
Darby took a journey back to the time when he was the Johor coach – 16 years ago in 1998 when he took Johor to the FA Cup title, beating Sabah 1-0 in the final.
The scenario of the M-League teams is a complete change and the Englishman, who also had coaching stint with Perak apart from Johor, told Sports247.my: “Sixteen years ago I used to be the kit man also. In my car boot you could find footballs, nets, ice buckets and other football paraphernalia. It is so different now.
“Teams have big budgets and employ the best players and coaches and other backroom staff to take care of a team – a far cry from the 1990s when you had to work on limited budget.
“This reflects the biggest difference one sees in present day football taking a journey down the road 16 years shows how much the M-League has changed. Today you get World Cup stars in action in the M-League.
“The M-League has become very competitive and a look at the league standings will show that it is no more a two or three-horse race. This is good and healthy for the game in the country.”
The top four teams are bunched on 13 points each – with only goal difference separating leaders Terengganu, second-placed Pahang, Kelantan (third) and Selangor (fourth). The Turtles and Selangor, however, have a game in hand over their rivals, having played only seven matches.
Kelantan and Darul Takzim go into the fray in a match which saw tickets being sold out within hours of being on sale.
The Red Warriors slumped to their second defeat in the league with a 1-0 defeat to Selangor at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday while the Southern Tigers were held to a 1-1 draw by Armed Forces at the Larkin Stadium.
*Malaysia Super League – It was previously known as the Semi-Pro League from 1989 to 1993 and the Malaysian League (Liga-M) from 1993 to 2004.