In recent years, it has been a rarity for Negeri fans to feel this excited with 2 games left to play. Normally, we’d be lying on our backs, palms behind our head, staring blankly at the spinning ceiling fan and wondering to ourselves “How on earth did our season suffer a meltdown… again!?” But this season it’s different. Somehow we’re still in the mix and vying for that last spot in Super League. Seem to have lost the chance after the lost against Penang. But with results elsewhere favoring Negeri in the weeks after, somehow we’re still in it. Aah, just love saying those words. We’re still in it.
And to make it better, we do not need to depend on result of others. It’s all up to us. All we need to do is win the next 2 games. Simple. Looking at the Premier League table, we’re sandwiched between our last 2 opponents. UiTM above and PDRM below.
First up, PDRM.
PDRM is arguably the most improved and consistent of the Premier League teams in the second half of the season. In their last 7 games, won 5, lost 2 and scored a whopping 18 goals. Losing only to Sabah and TFCII by solitary goal margins. Now that’s a solid squad. Their attacking option consists of speedy wingers and big forwards, a combo that Negeri’s defence has yet to be able to comfortably handle. Plus having Fakrul Aiman, Fauzan Fauzi and Shahurain, who are no strangers to Paroi could provide an added advantage for PDRM.
When the two sides met in the first round, it ended 1-1. Those that saw the match can recollect that there was definitely no love lost between the two sides. Tempers flared, skirmishes erupted, mouth foams exchanged. Surprisingly, the players involved in most of the incidents were ex-Negeri players. Even the Negeri bench were not spared from the action. Can’t recall whether Koroma played in that game. Well, wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
However, the current Negeri side also exudes confidence. Played good football in virtually all of the second round matches, even in those games that we lost (more like robbed). Game against JDTII was probably one of the best we played. Yes, we had a bit of luck and maybe JDTII were not in full throttle but the way Negeri played was such a joy to watch. If that game was good, then the game against PDRM needs to be better.
Looking at our progress, there is no doubt we can produce better performances with each game. But the over reliance on our imports is a deep worrying factor. From goal scoring to taking on opponents to making crosses. Most of the moves that made impacts were the ones created by our imports. And that’s worrying. We have to admit that Neto and Igor may be one notch above our local players. Thus it is too much expecting from them to play like the two. Maybe they can’t quite match our imports’ skills but there is one aspect that our players should take cue from the imports. Their composure. There were many opportunities during the game against JDTII that we could have taken advantage if only the players were a bit more composed. A bit of composure was the difference between a goal and no goal, a pass and no pass.
So what happens if we win, lose or draw against PDRM?
Win : This would only leave 2 teams, Negeri and UiTM, to slug it out for the final spot. Winner takes all in the final game. Even a draw in the final game is enough for Negeri.
Lose or Draw : Means a probable 4 way tussle between UiTM, PDRM, Negri and even Penang. A mad scramble in the final game. Good for the neutrals but bad for the …..un-neutrals.
The chase for the last spot in Super League is going straight down to the wire and it is going to be an exciting two weekends.
Recently, Malaysia launched the DNA for Malaysian football. Negeri fans don’t think that is applicable to us. Because for now, we have Coach Mat Zan’s DNA. If (and it is still a big IF) Negri does pull this through, I’m going to run an online petition for the fusion of coach Mat Zan’s DNA with the Malaysian Football DNA.
Negeri fans could not help but have it at the back of our minds that this could be a false hope. Probably another “This is our year!” moment. We’re so used to false hopes that the default mode of thinking is we’re going to fall flat at the final hurdle. It’s easier that way so that it doesn’t hurt too much when it happens. And it usually does.
For me, hope is good enough and I’m just going to cling onto it for as long as I’m allowed to.
I’m just glad we’re still in it.