Thursday, April 21, 2016


Only One Team In Terengganu

At the start of the current Malaysia Super League season it was decided T Team would be rebranded Terengganu II FC. The thinking, I wouldn't go so far as to call it logic, was that T Team were being seen in a negative light, as the state's second team. Like I said, I wouldn't call it logic. Apparently Terengganu are receiving a budget of RM 20 million for this year while T TEam, or however the state want them to be seen, receive RM 10 million for the season.

But eight rounds in to the current MSL campaign and it is the team starved of the funds that is leading the way in the state, no doubt to the embarrassment of the establishment. And in the battle of the coaches with a shared heritage* it is T Team's Rahmad Darmawan, a Indonesian who boasts Pelita Jaya and Arema on his resume, who has the upper hand over Aussie Mike Mulvey who once led Brisbane Roar to the ALeague.

Last night saw T Team beat Kedah 4-1 to move up to fourth place. Admittedly they are a long way off the leaders Felda United, Nine points to be precise. But in the battle for local pride RD's men are three points clear of Terengganu who sit eighth after losing 3-2 at home to Perak on Tuesday. That was the third straight loss for Mulvey's men and given the trigger happy figures that rule the roost in the north eastern state he must be sitting uneasily in the coach's hot seat. After all he replaced Ahmad Yusof after losing to second tier PKNS in the FA Cup in what was the team's third game of the season!

Mulvey remains optimistic and says he believes the club management see the importance of having a long term plan and stability. After the Perak loss he said the squad was short on numbers and was looking forward to June when the transfer window opens. June however is a long time off and there are more immediate struggles ahead, not least this weekend when he takes his team to Kota Bahru for the big north east derby against Kelantan, another team underperforming this season. Lose that and Mulvey could be looking at gardening leave in June, not the transfer window.

Rahmad Darmawan's T Team however seem to be on a different trajectory altogether. After a slow start when they lost two of their three opening games, against champions JDT and leaders Felda United the team have gone from strength to strength drawing two and winning their last three.

At the heart of their revival has been silky Mali midfielder Makan Konate. So impressive for Persib during their Indonesia Super League title success in 2014, Konate has scored five goals this season in eight games. Indeed it was his equaliser against PDRM that sparked T Team's return to form. They were on their way to their third straight defeat when he saved the day and since then have seen 11 points from 15 added to their scorecard.

RD has won the title in Indonesia with Sriwijaya and Persipura and has also worked with the national team. He brings a wealth of experience to the table but I think there was some surprise, especially from me, when he opted to join unfancied T Team at the start of the season. And here we are, a third of the way into the season and it appears to be an inspired choice. However much can change and quickly. It wasn't that long ago that across the city Mike Mulvey was feeling top of the pile after victories over Pahang and Selangor.

The two teams meet in the first Terengganu derby of the season on 18th May but how will the respective sides be by then?

Terengganu's poor form is the one that causes headscratching and as I was doing research for this a post went up on their Facebook page saying if their poor form continues they could consider having just a single team in the competition next season!  My headline had been planned before the story and referred to T Team's ascendancy. It may be more prophetic than the whim of a headline writer!

*Both coaches have worked for Bakrie owned clubs in the past. Their coffee shop chats must be fascinating!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?