MALAYSIA CUP: Pressure on Terengganu, T-Team to shine
TERENGGANU and T-Team are on a similar mission but with a different approach in their quest to lift the Malaysia Cup.
Both teams from Kuala Terengganu will have no choice but to do well in the competition as their main sponsor, the Terengganu government, is far from happy with their performance in all competitions thus far this year.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, who had earlier summoned managers from both teams to explain their mediocre results in the FA Cup and the Super League, is not the only one who expects the two teams to shine in the coming Malaysia Cup campaign.
Terengganu FA deputy president Shaikh Ahmad Tajuddin Shaikh Yusoff said Terengganu did well enough to win the FA Cup, finished second in the Super League and emerged runners-up in the Malaysia Cup last year.
"The fans were expecting trophies from us this season and we know they were very disappointed with us when we failed to get the better of Premier League outfit Sime Darby in the FA Cup semi-finals.
"Most of our supporters were not happy when we only managed to finish the league in fifth place but they should know that in football, it is impossible to always get what we want," he said.
But Shaikh Ahmad said all is not over for the Turtles as they have a decent record in the oldest and most prestigious cup competition in the country.
"We had a few hiccups earlier in the season when Irfan (Bakti) left to coach Selangor and Mat Zan (Mat Aris) who came in to replace him, could not steer the team in the right direction.
"We brought (Peter) Butler in to replace Mat Zan a couple of months ago and he has done a creditable job thus far. We have no doubt that our team are now ready to challenge for honours in the Malaysia Cup even when we do not have any on-loan signing," he said.
Shaikh Ahmad, who is also assistant team manager, said the team have enough talent from their President's Cup squad who are ready for promotion to the first team.
"Several of the youngsters were even included in our first team late in the Super League and coach Butler seemed very happy with their performance and wanted to use them in the coming Malaysia Cup campaign," he said.
But it is a different story for T-Team who now have three on-loan signings to beef up their Malaysia Cup squad.
Coach Yunus Alif said his team needed to be strengthened and midfielder Shahrul Azhar Ture and defender Sumardi Hajalan were brought in from Sabah, in addition to striker Mohd Fauzi Abdul Majid from Police.
"We have to bring in additional players as our target this year is to qualify for the Malaysia Cup final since we managed to reach the semi-finals last year and we will to go one step further this time round.
"Some people may think that is 'mission impossible' especially in the company of favourites such as Kelantan, Lions XII, Selangor, Perak and Terengganu but this is a cup competition and our chance is as good as any other competing team," he said.