Malaysian Super League: Yusof's Turtles on fire

DEADLY STRIKEFORCE: LionsXII will have to be wary of Terengganu’s attacking trio, led by 2014 MSL top-scorer Paulo Rangel (centre, in yellow boots).
PHOTO: The New Paper

Four Malaysian Super League (MSL) teams have won their last three games on the bounce.

No one will be surprised to know that the top two, Pahang FA and Johor Darul Ta'zim, are in the group.

Eyebrows would have been raised, though, over the fact the other two sides in red-hot form are the LionsXII, in fourth place, and Terengganu, who are seventh in the 12-team standings.

The two teams meet in Kuala Terengganu tonight in what should be a treat for the fans, as both sides look to continue their charge and secure a place in the top four, which will bring about seeding for the post-season Malaysia Cup campaign.

The Turtles' recent form has been surprising given their unimpressive league position.

They had been on a wretched run of six straight defeats before they turned the corner with a 4-2 win over Sarawak FA on July 4.

The string of losses saw veteran coach Abdul Rahman, 68, announce he would "take a break" from the first team for three months, although there have been suggestions he was asked to step aside by Terengganu's senior management.

Interim head coach Ahmad Yusof, Rahman's assistant, has done his position no harm with a 100 per cent record after three matches.

After beating Sarawak, the former Kedah and Pahang coach led the Turtles to wins over Sime Darby (2-0) and ATM FA (5-1).

Yusof has got his side firing again, with 11 goals plundered in three games, compared to the 17 in 13 matches previously.

But he does not want to be seen as the sole reason for the team's surge in form.


"We have been helped that in the last three games, we have faced the so-called smaller teams that are below us," he told The New Paper yesterday.

"Before that, we had to play tougher teams. In terms of the results, of course I'm happy.

But I think we can perform better.

"To be honest, I don't think there has been too much difference in how we play.

"I am still in touch with Haji Rahman about how to go about tweaking the team's tactics."

Terengganu boast one of the most fearsome frontlines in Malaysian football, with 2014 MSL top-scorer Paulo Rangel, Malaysia star Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Canadian international forward Issey Nakajima-Farran in their ranks.

Said Yusof: "The players have not changed from before.

"We simply did not put our chances away in previous matches.

"Tomorrow night, we have to do even better than we have recently, because the LionsXII are a strong, young team.

"We know they have won their last three matches too, so we will need full commitment from our players to win."

This article was first published on August 5, 2015.
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