M'sian Super League: Ready, get set, go

DAVID LEE rates this season's LionsXII and their rivals

LIONSXII

Coach: Fandi Ahmad (replaces V Sundramoorthy)

Last season: Champions

Key transfers: IN - Khairul Amri (FW, right), Firdaus Kasman (MF, both Tampines Rovers), Sufian Anuar (FW, Warriors FC), Afiq Yunos (DF, Young Lions)

OUT - Hariss Harun (MF), Baihakki Khaizan (DF, both Johor Darul Ta'zim), Shahril Ishak (FW, Johor Darul Ta'zim II)

Outlook: The defending champions' best players Shahril, Baihakki and Hariss - who combined for 12 goals and 13 assists - have left. With the new ruling allowing all their rivals to sign two more foreigners, the LionsXII have it all to do to crack the top five. We would love to be proven wrong again, though.

Prediction: 5th

 

SELANGOR

Coach: Mehmet Durakovic (replaces Irfan Bakti Abu Salim)

Last season: 2nd

Foreigners:

Steve Pantelidis (DF, Australian)

Junior Aparecido (MF, Brazilian)

Andik Vermansyah (MF, Indonesian)

Paulo Rangel (FW, Brazilian, above)

Key local transfers:

IN - Farizal Marlias (GK), Abdul Hadi Yahya (FW, both Perak), Thamil Arasu (FW), Ahmad Hazwan Bakri (FW, both Harimau Muda), Azmi Muslim (DF, Felda)

OUT - Mahali Jasuli (DF), Amri Yahyah (MF), Asraruddin Putra Omar (DF, all Johor Darul Ta'zim), Sharbinee Allawee (GK, Terengganu)

Outlook: Their failure to kill off games - the Red Giants had a league-high 10 draws - cost them the title last year. If they can keep things tight at the back in the midst of an AFC Cup campaign, they should push JDT all the way for the title.

Prediction: 2nd

JOHOR DARUL TA'ZIM

Coach: Cesar Ferrando Jimenez (replaces Fandi Ahmad)

Last season: 3rd

Foreigners:

Baihakki Khaizan (DF, Singaporean)

Hariss Harun (MF, Singaporean)

Pablo Aimar (MF, Argentinian)

Luciano Figueroa (FW, Argentinian)

Key local transfers:

IN - Amri Yahyah (MF), Mahali Jasuli (DF), Asraruddin Putra Omar (DF, all Selangor), Azizi Matt Rose (DF), Daudsu Jamaluddin (DF), S Subramaniam (DF), Shakir Shaari (MF, all Kelantan), Irfan Fazail (MF), Fadhli Shas (DF, both Harimau Muda), Amirul Hadi Zainal (MF, Pahang)

OUT - Muslim Ahmad (DF, PDRM), Tuah Iskandar (DF, Perak), Zaquan Adha (MF, Johor Darul Ta'zim II), Irfan Abdul Ghani (DF, T-Team)

Outlook: Club president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim has whipped out his chequebook again to bring in former Atletico Madrid manager Jimenez and Argentine World Cup star Aimar. The Southern Tigers have so much depth that there are two internationals vying for a starting berth in every position. A healthy competition, not to mention bonus, should see Johor run away with the title this year.

Prediction: Champions

KELANTAN

Coach: Steve Darby (replaces Bojan Hodak)

Last season: 4th

Foreigners:

Obinna Nwaneri (DF, Nigerian)

Mohd Shawky (MF, Egyptian)

Mohd Ghaddar (FW, Lebanese)

Francis Forkey Doe (FW, right, Liberian)

Key local transfers:

IN - Amar Rohidan (MF, Felda), Ahmad Shakir Ali (FW, Negeri Sembilan), Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria (FW, Harimau Muda), Ahmad Fakri Saarani (MF, Atletico SC)

OUT - Indra Putra Mahayuddin (FW, Felda), Azizi Matt Rose (DF), Daudsu Jamaluddin (DF), S Subramaniam (DF), Shakir Shaari (MF, all Johor Darul Ta'zim), K Nanthakumar (MF, Negeri Sembilan), Nor Farhan Muhammad (FW, Terengganu)

Outlook: The Red Warriors areweakened after JDT raided them for three of their top defenders. Burdened with AFC Cup commitments, the 2012 Treble winners must be careful or they could slip into mediocrity.

Prediction: 6th

PAHANG

Coach: Ronald Smith (replaces Dollah Salleh)

Last season: 5th

Foreigners:

Zesh Rehman (DF, Pakistani, above)

Damion Stewart (DF, Jamaican)

Dickson Nwakaeme (FW, Nigerian)

Matias Conti (FW, Argentinian)

Key local transfer:

OUT - Amirul Hadi Zainal (MF, Johor Darul Ta'zim)

Outlook: Pahang have retained almost all their key players who contributed to their Malaysia Cup success last season. The Elephant Army have the smoothest transition into the new season. All that's left is for the team to adapt to new coach Smith's style, and shore up a relegation-worthy defence.

Prediction: 3rd

ATM FA

Coach: B Sathianathan

Last season: 6th

Foreigners:

Spase Dilevski (DF, Australian)

Bruno Martelotto (MF, Argentinian)

Juan Manuel Arostegui (FW, above, Argentinian)

Marlon James (FW, St Vincentian)

Key local transfers:

IN - Syed Adney (GK, Terengganu), Fauzi Saari (MF), Rudie Ramli (FW, both Felda)

OUT - Shukor Adan (MF), Farizal Harun (GK, both Felda)

Outlook: James is always good for goals, but can the Gladiators defence keep it tight? Sathianathan has been set a target of winning at least one trophy and, being the only coach among last season's MSL teams to be retained, he has the benefit of a good rapport with his players.

Prediction: 4th

PERAK

Coach: Abu Bakar Fadzim (replaces Azraai Khor)

Last season: 7th

Foreigners:

Eliel da Cruz Guardiano (FW, Brazilian)

Martin Kafando (MF, Burkinese)

Kyaw Zayar Win (MF, Myanmarese, above)

Zelimir Terkes (FW, Bosnian)

Key local transfers:

IN - Razi Effendi (GK, PKNS), Tuah Iskandar (DF, Johor Darul Ta'zim), Hardi Jaafar (MF, Penang), Shahrizal Saad (FW, Felda)

OUT - Shahrulnizam Mustapa (MF, Felda), Rafiuddin Rodin (FW, Penang), Abdul Hadi Yahya (FW, Selangor), S Chanturu (MF, Sarawak)

Outlook: Beset by suspicions of match-fixing late last season, it remains to be seen how morale is affected. All their new imports are unproven in this league and could take some time to settle.

Prediction: 11th

 

PKNS

Coach: Wan Jamak Wan Hassan (replaces Abdul Rahman Ibrahim)

Last season: 8th

Foreigners:

Hamka Hamzah (DF, Indonesian)

Kim Dong Chan (MF, South Korean)

Patrick Wleh (FW, right, Liberian)

Karlo Primorac (Croatian, FW)

Key local transfer:

OUT - Razi Effendi (GK, Perak)

Outlook: While the Fireants have not got many local reinforcements, they have done well to keep prolific Liberian striker Wleh, and successfully lured last season's Premier League top scorer Primorac. PKNS have never been a fashionable outfit, but they do cause some upsets. If Hamka can help shore up the defence, they could be this season's dark horses.

Prediction: 7th

TERENGGANU

Coach: Abdul Rahman Ibrahim (replaces E Elavarasan)

Last season: 9th

Foreigners:

Vincent Bikana (DF, Cameroonian)

Mario Karlovic (MF, Australian)

Marcio Souza (FW, Brazilian)

Mamadou Barry (FW, Guinean)

Key local transfers:

IN - Nor Farhan (FW), Zairo Anuar Zailani (MF, right, both Kelantan) Sharbinee Allawee (GK, Selangor), Mazlizam Mohd (DF, T-Team)

OUT - Wan Azraie Wan Teh (GK), Faizal Muhammad (DF, both T-Team), Syed Adney (GK, ATM), Farderin Kadir (FW, Sime Darby)

Outlook: It looks unlikely that the under-achieving Turtles' fortunes will improve. Nor Farhan and Zairo are quality signings, but Sharbinee is not known for his consistency. Could be another disappointing year ahead.

Prediction: 10th

T-TEAM

Coach: Azraai Khor (replaces Che Ku Marzuki)

Last season: 10th

Foreigners:

Fabio Flor (DF, Brazilian)

Evaldo Concalves (FW, Brazilian)

Patrich Wanggai (FW, Indonesian, right)

Nelson San Martin (MF, Chilean)

Local transfers:

IN - Wan Azraie Wan Teh (GK, Terengganu), Faizal Muhammad (DF, T-Team), Irfan Abdul Ghani (DF, Johor Darul Ta'zim)

OUT - G Mahathevan (DF, Penang)

Outlook: The Titans look anything but unbeatable. They do look pacier now, especially after getting rid of languid former EPL central midfielder George Boateng, and they will be a nuisance with an occasional upset, but could struggle to stay afloat.

Prediction: 9th

SARAWAK

Coach: Robert Alberts

Last season: Malaysian Premier League champions

Foreigners:

Gabor Gyepes (DF, left, Hungarian)

Milorad Janjus (FW, Serbian)

Alireza Abbasfard (FW, Iranian)

Muamer Salibasic (MF, Bosnian)

Key local transfers:

IN - S Chanturu (MF, Perak), Akmal Rizal (FW, Kedah)

OUT - Bobby Gonzalez (FW, PDRM), Azizan Baba (MF, Penang)

Outlook: The Crocs would have learnt from their failed MSL experience in 2012 to know what it takes to stay up. Junior Eldstal, Joseph Kalang Tie, Chanturu and Ashri Chuchu can form one of the strongest midfields in the league, while Salibasic is also a versatile attacker to look out for. But Sarawak do not seem to have the depth to break into the top half.

Prediction: 8th

SIME DARBY

Coach: Ismail Zakaria

Last season: 2nd in Malaysian Premier League

Foreigners:

William Mensah (DF, Ghanaian)

Dilshod Sharofetdinov (DF, Uzbek)

Wisdom Agblexo (FW, Ghanaian)

Mahmoud Amnah (FW, Syrian)

Key local transfers:

IN - Farid Ramli (DF, Johor Darul Ta'zim), Farderin Kadir (FW, Terengganu), Failee Ghazli (FW, Perak, right)

Outlook: Nicknamed the Giant Killers, they would have been a much stronger outfit if they had held on to their top scorer Karlo Primorac. Formed only in 2010, they have done tremendously well to get to the top tier in just four seasons, becoming the first club side to make the 2012 FA Cup final along the way. But they could find themselves out of their depth in the MSL.

Prediction: 12th

FIXTURES

TODAY

Pahang v LionsXII

TOMORROW

Selangor v T-Team

Kelantan v Sime Darby

Terengganu v PKNS

ATM FA v Sarawak

Johor Darul Ta'zim v Perak


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