Sarawak don't expect favours in Malaysia Super League relegation fight
A determined Sarawak will be out to secure their top flight status when they host T-Team in the final Malaysia Super League (MSL) on Saturday.
It would cap a topsy-turvy season on a memorable note, as they sit a point above Kelantan, who travel to Melaka United.
If Sarawak get a better result than Kelantan, they will avoid relegation and the Red Warriors will drop to the second division, along with Penang.
Head coach Pengiran Bala is ready to see the job through in front of an expected bumper crowd at Sarawak Stadium.
"We cannot depend on any favours to stay in the league. Kelantan desperately need a win against Melaka United, and they will go out fighting too," Pengiran told Utusan Borneo. "For this match, I have a full squad to choose from and will field my best line up."
Sarawak are expected to be given a stern test by Rahmad Darmawan's T-Team, who are still not mathematically safe from the drop. T-Team are three points above Kelantan, but have a better goal difference.
For Sarawak, staying in the top tier will brighten up a troubled campaign which saw Pengiran stepping in to take over from David Usop, who stepped down in July after feeling the pressure.
The East Malaysia outfit find themselves just above the danger zone after scoring four second-half goals to upset Kedah 4-2 in their last league match on Sept. 27.
Their Croatian striker Mateo Roskam, who netted a brace in that win, will once again be tasked to score goals.
Back on the Malaysian peninsular, Kelantan will face their most important 90 minutes of the season. They will aim to beat Melaka, and hope that T-Team can at least secure a draw in Kuching.
Beset by off-field problems, including financial woes, league survival could prove a much-needed respite for the troubled 2012 treble winners.
At the top, league champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) travel to face Kedah in a preview of the Malaysia Cup final on Nov. 4.
Both teams have little to play for in this encounter, and are expected to rest most of their key players ahead of the big showdown at Shah Alam Stadium.
Relegated Penang, meanwhile, will be looking to go out with a bang when they welcome Selangor.
Pahang will wrap up their league campaign against Perak, while PKNS FC face Felda United at home.
This is the 14th season of the MSL, with JDT having won the last four titles.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.