THE BIG SHOWDOWN IN IPOH TO DECIDE AFC CUP SLOT

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PETALING JAYA, 9 Oct – The coronavirus pandemic takes a backseat for two footballing rivals – Perak and Kedah – when they clash at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh on Sunday in a match that offers big stakes – a place in next year’s AFC Cup.
Kedah needs only a draw to lay that claim while Perak needs a win after the Red Eagles defeated Melaka United 1-0 in their last match that gave them 19 points and second spot in the league standings.
Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) has already won the Super League title for an unprecedented seventh successive time that came with a place in the AFC Champions League.
This leaves Kedah and Perak to battle it out for the AFC Cup.
Perak coach Mehmet Durakovic, impressed with his team’s performance against Pahang, however, has a mammoth task in defense without his influential and inspiring skipper Shahrul Saad. The international is suspended for the Kedah match.
“It will be a tough match…a lot is at stake. Both teams want a win to finish second in the league standings and with that comes the coveted AFC Cup slot. That sums up the big clash in Ipoh,” said the Australian, reportedly the high paid coach in the Malaysian League.
Still, Durakovic is not letting the absence of Shahrul stand in Perak’s way and he has confidence in his players to carry the challenge.
“There is the pride and I know whoever takes the field will not shirk his responsibility. The match against Pahang showed what Perak is capable of and I expect another epic encounter.”
If there is one plus factor for Durakovic is the return of Brazilian striker Guilherme de Paulo from injury. The Brazilian has been shaping up well in training and Perak can count on the lanky Guilherme to deliver.
After Kedah’s win, Perak dropped a rung below with 18 points but showed that they have the stuff to take up the challenge after a tremendous fighting spirit saw the Bos Gauros snatch a 3-3 draw – coming back from a 3-0 first-half deficit against Pahang away.

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