Winless Felda United will be a handful for Melaka United in an away Group D Malaysia Cup match on the artificial turf at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Jengka on Saturday.
More so when Melaka is bogged down by injuries to first-choice goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Ivory Coast hitman Davy Angan and playmaker Saiful Ridzuan and head coach Zainal Abidin Hassan will only name his teams hours before the match.
Melaka defeated Police 3-1 in their opening match but slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Selangor in the next match. Both matches were played at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka.
Playing on artificial turf in Jengka is another matter for Zainal and company took their training to Lendu in Alor Gajah.
“The injuries have thrown a spanner in my match strategies and plans,” said Zainal, who has driven home a strong message to players to be “fully focused” to win all three points in a match which is crucial after the narrow defeat Selangor.
Selangor shot to the top of Group A with the win and the Red Giants have four points from two matches after a 2-2 draw with Felda at the Shah Alam Stadium. Melaka is in second place with three points, separated by goal difference from Police. Felda is at the bottom with only one point.
“This is a crucial match for us. We cannot afford to lose another three points. Felda is always a tough opponent. Despite the injuries, we will take the challenge to achieve a positive result in Jengka,” said Zainal.
Zainal, however, pleased with reserve goalkeeper Solehin Mamat who has done reasonably well since taking over from Khairul Fahmi. The experienced Khairul has yet to see Malaysia Cup action so far.
The absence of Angan is a sore point as Melaka has not been sharp in the penalty box despite creating the chances.
“We should not have lost to Selangor if only we had been sharp with the opportunities that we created,” laments Zainal. RIZAL ABDULLAH