* Security for Saturday’s match beefed up
* No love lost when the Elephants cross paths with the Southern Tigers
Leaders Pahang are not ready to surrender their lead at the table in Saturday’s top of the table clash against defending champions Johor Darul Takzim at Kuantan’s Darul Makmur Stadium.
Pahang head coach Zainal Abidin Hassan said that the match could more or else decide the fate of the two teams in this year’s Super League – with Pahang at the top with 26 points with the Southern Tigers a close second on 24 while Selangor and Perak in third and fourth place with 21 points each but separated by goal difference.
“Don’t look at past results…it is history. It is a match which has drawn a lot of interest. We do not want to lose our grip at the top while JDT want points to move up. But we are not ready to surrender our lead,” said Zainal from Kuantan.
In the same breath Zainal is aware that JDT has a squad that has depth in every department which makes their task a “tough one” after JDT defeated Terengganu 2-0 at the Larkin Stadium last week while his team struggled to beat Police 1-0 with an injury time goal through Azidan Sarudin.
JDT has a poor away record this season but broke that jinx with a 1-0 win over Terengganu at the Sultan Zainal Mizan Stadium in Kuala Terengganu to complete their first round fixtures. Even then Terengganu took the field with a crippled lineup following suspensions to Brazilian striker Paulo Rangel and Argentine midfielder Gutavo Lopez. Canadian Issey Nakajima is injured.
“If there is one thing that draws inspiration is my team’s tremendous fighting spirit and commitment until the final whistle. This is what saw us beat Police 1-0 on Tuesday,” said Zainal.
For the record JDT did beat Pahang 2-0 in the Charity Shield at the Larkin Stadium at the start of the season. The curtain raiser also counted towards the league points.
However, JDT failed to win in their five meetings last season – three defeats and two draws.
This sums up Saturday’s cruncher.
Zainal’s message to his players: “Be focused and play to instructions.”
The Pahang FA have beefed up security for the match in Kuantan as it is expected to draw a bumper crowd although the match will be played at 10pm due to the fasting month.