The curtains will draw upon another Malaysia Super League (MSL) season, following the final round of fixtures on Saturday. With Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) having wrapped up the title more than a month ago, the focus will solely be on the relegation battle which has taken a new twist.
Here are three thoughts ahead of Matchday 22.
1. Elephants survive drop
Demotion to the second-tier Premier League would have marked a rapid fall from grace for Pahang, who were riding high and mighty only two years ago with an all-star line-up that captured both the FA Cup and Malaysia Cup.
Fortunately for them, the relegation battle will not be their problem on Saturday. The 1-0 loss to Kedah on Aug. 3 was overturned by the Football Association of Malaysia, who penalised the Canaries for fielding an ineligible player.
Pahang's objection letter to the national body on Oct. 13 was acknowledged six days later with the club being awarded three points. While Razip Ismail's future still hangs in the balance, the coach can afford to oversee the final game to T-Team without any relegation woes.
2. A meaty wrestle between Crocs and Cops
Pahang's relegation escape means the heat is on both Sarawak and PDRM FA to do battle for a winner-takes-all spot in the MSL.
The Cops, who crashed out of the Malaysia Cup semifinals to Kedah last week will travel to the Sarawak Stadium without their talisman Safuwan Baharuddin, who has popped up with some crucial goals from midfield this season. Without the influential Singaporean, Fauzi Pilus will rely on Guilherme De Paula for ammunition against a side who has shipped in 39 goals so far.
The troubled hosts have meanwhile called on the their supporters to turn up in droves to drive the team to victory. Both teams will stay in the MSL with a draw, but only if Penang-Terengganu share the spoils as well.
Nothing will be taken for granted, so expect an extremely physical and emotional battle to transpire in Kuching on Saturday.
Thank you PDRM for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the team and the privilege to lead them! Thank you to my teammates for your hard work and contribution. Last night was my last game for the season. Unfortunately, luck wasn't on our side and we did not make it to the finals �� Nevertheless I wish the boys the very best for their last game against Sarawak. #THECOPS
A photo posted by SB21 �������� (@safuwanbaharudin) on
3. Turtles do stay afloat at all cost
Terengganu's position at the bottom of the MSL table does not reflect the quality of their squad, made up of talents in every department. Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Yong Kuong Yong, Joseph Kallang Tie and Issey Nakajima-Farran are just some of the names who were more than able to lift this once northern powerhouse out of their misery. But Terengganu's problems run deeper than a non-performing squad.
Management deficiencies have resulted in three coaches helming the squad. After wielding the axe on Ahmad Yunos and Mike Mulvey, Mustaffa Kamal was entrusted to save the underperforming side. With former Felda boss Irfan Bakti almost certain to guide the team next year, Mustaffa may not even be inspired to rally his troops for the must-win game away to Penang.
A victory is a must at all cost for the team who set out to fight for their top-flight lives at the City Stadium on Saturday. Anything less than three valuable points, could result in catastrophic proportions for the Turtles who finished fourth in their last two campaigns.
Kedah vs. Felda
Kelantan vs. Perak
Penang vs. Terengganu
Sarawak vs. PDRM FA
Selangor vs. JDT
T-Team vs. Pahang