Former national team captain, Shukor Adan (left) feels that the fight for the Super League crown this season will be an excitingly close one with defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT). (BERNAMA / FILE PIC)

KUALA LUMPUR: Former national team captain, Shukor Adan feels that the fight for the Super League crown this season will be an excitingly close one with defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) expected to face a tough time in defending their title for the sixth consecutive season.

The central defensive lynchpin explained that based on the enhanced preparations of many of the big teams in the Super League, which include pre-season playing tours overseas apart from engaging foreign imports of a higher quality.

Therefore the Melaka captain believes that the fight for the Super League crown will be even more competitive and interesting compared to last season.

“It is clearly evident for everyone to see how serious some teams are in managing their preparations as best they can, teams like Terengganu, Selangor and even my team Melaka are going all out to really prepare for the new season.

“Even though most of the teams are actually working hard towards reducing costs by limiting their finances and budget for the new season, but they still managed to carry out the best in terms of preparations that they possibly can.

“I feel that for this coming new season, it will mark the rise of state teams in the Super League. Just look at Pahang who have brought back their feared former forward Dickson Nwakaeme, which just goes to show how serious they are in their quest to become Super League champions.

“In fact, more and more top local players are plying their trade in the Super League, as compared to previous seasons where there was more of a balance in terms of the spread of top local players in the Super League and Premier League,” he said.

Meanwhile Shukor admitted that he is both humbled and honoured to be given the trust and responsibility of leading Melaka as team captain, even though the squad has a few other experienced players who are equally capable of captaining the team and who were captains themselves of their former teams, such as Safiq Rahim (JDT), Razman Roslan (Selangor), and Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kelantan).

“Personally, for me I feel that the presence of players such as Safiq, Razman, Khairul Fahmi and the other experienced players in the team will help to forge a better understanding and camaraderie which will only serve to improve Melaka’s chances of performing well,” said the former Felda United player.