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 By Nicolas Anil

Selangor coach Maniam says Kedah under more pressure in Malaysia Cup

Selangor coach P. Maniam admits his side have the "toughest" draw as they prepare to host defending champions Kedah in the Malaysia Cup quarterfinals on Friday, but says his players will be well prepared.

The first leg is at Selangor's Selayang Stadium, with the return leg at Kedah's Darulaman Stadium in Alor Setar, on Sept. 24.

The plum tie which is a repeat of the last two finals, with Selangor winning in 2015 and Kedah victorious last year on penalties.

Kedah will come into the last-eight showdown as slight favourites, due to the quality in their ranks, but Maniam is more than happy to assume the underdog's tag.

"For me, it all boils down to match-day performance. We are a young team who have outdone some big teams this season, and my players have the mental and physical strength to overcome anything Kedah throws at us," Maniam told ESPN FC.

"Kedah have good players, and if anything they will be more pressured to win. Most importantly, I do not want us to concede, and try to create as many chances."

Fixtures such as this would easily draw 40,000 to 50,000 fans to Selangor's traditional home of Shah Alam Stadium, but Maniam is resigned to his team only receiving slightly more than 9,000 support at the much-smaller Selayang Stadium.

"I don't want to comment much on that. We are already used to Selayang Stadium, so it is not an issue. But I do hope the supporters who turn up to be fully behind the players, as they will be another source of strength," Maniam said.

Selangor were denied use of Shah Alam by the state government this season due to internal politicking with the powers that be.

Selangor in 2017 MSL v Kelantan
Selangor are playing their home matches at Selayang instead of Shah Alam this season.

Despite operating on a meagre budget with the modest target of merely avoiding relegation, Maniam has done well by infusing the 33-time Cup champions with younger players like Syahmi Safari, K. Kannan and Adam Nor Azlin.

But to face Kedah, the coach may be without his Indonesian winger Andik Vermansyah, who is still recovering from a foot injury.

Group B bridesmaids Felda United, meanwhile, will take on surprise Premier League packets PKNP FC in the other last eight match on Friday.

Saturday will see Pahang host Perak, while Melaka United welcome the visit of Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Ta'zim.

Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.


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