PETALING JAYA, Dec 19 – Kedah, Terengganu and Pahang – these are the teams which was picked by Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) owner, HRH Major General Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim as his club strongest challengers for the new season.
Many would have thought 33-time Malaysia Cup champions, Selangor would have been one of the picks by the Johor Crown Prince when he replied to a question posed to him during a talk show that was telecast live recently.
When asked for his choice, Tunku Ismail said: “I have my reasons. I have no problems with the team (Selangor). It’s just there are certain individuals in the management who have irked me…but that’s my personal view.”
Selangor hit the limelight in September when the Red Giants slumped to a 6-1 defeat  to JDT which led to the sacking of head coach, B. Satiananthan.
It was not the defeat that led to Satiananthan’s exit but the work of the hidden hands that operate in the Selangor FA.
Tunku Ismail said Kedah is always a tough team to play.
“Despite the problems faced off the pitch, the Kedah players kept their composure and played good football. They showed consistency.”
Terengganu earned praise from the JDT supremo who was once headed the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and was also the chairman of the Malaysian Football League (MFL).
“I am impressed with Terengganu’s football structure apart from the team’s good performance. Terengganu gave us a tough time when we played them and nearly lost the match (in Kuala Terengganu).
“‘They also have a good coach (in Nafuzi Zain), disciplined players and good facilities. I expect Terengganu to be in better shape next season.”
Football fans will remember that over the years, Pahang has always given JDT a run for their money and Tunku Ismail remembers that well and hence his pick as strong contenders.
The Elephants had off-field problems and their ace in the pack Mohamadou Sumareh deserted the team when the league resumed over salary issues.
Head coach Dollah Salleh was also saddled with massive injury problems to his players.
“Our past matches against Pahang have always been touch and go affair. It’s really tough going against Pahang when JDT plays them,” added Tunku Ismail.
Coming back to Selangor, it is anyone’s guess for the real reasons for not being on the list of title contenders.
For the record, JDT has established themselves as the kingpins of Malaysian football and won their seventh Malaysian Super League title since 2014.
The Southern Tigers also won the Malaysia Cup last year.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s FA Cup and the Malaysia Cup were canceled.

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