BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The detailed fixtures of the first five matchdays of the 2020 Malaysia Super League werebeen announced last week, and luck seemed to not have favoured Selangor.
The Red Giants have been drawn against the top sides in their first four matches, and head coach B. Satiananthan is fuming over the draw. His charges will play Pahang (away, February 29), Perak (home, March 7), Terengganu FC (away, March 11) and Kedah (away, 15 March).
Although the fixtures seem rather congested due to competitions organiser Malaysian Football League's (MFL) decision to start the league in late February as opposed to early in the month in previous seasons, as well as FIFA's international dates, the experienced coach is not upset over the congestion.
He is instead unhappy over the fact that his charges will be playing the league favourites right off the bat.
Curiously, the Red Giants will only play three of the weaker teams (UiTM FC, PDRM, Felda United) in the final three rounds of the first half of the league.
Selangor vs Felda in 2019. Photo by Sports Regime
"The draw has not been kind to us, with us having to face off against the top nine teams in the country in the first nine rounds. We're only taking on the three weak teams, on paper, in the last three rounds (of the first half) of the league. It's very funny and strange. It's a good draw for the other teams but not for us. But what can we say? I've never come across something like this in my entire career; having to play against the nine of the top teams first, before facing off against the bottom three clubs.
"But what I can tell my players is that the draw has been performed, so we have to try to top the standings, despite all odds. The coaching staff and players will have to do their best, especially when they play six [league] games in the fasting month (Ramadan)," said the Football Coaches Association of Malaysia president when met by Goal just before conducting practice on Tuesday.
According to the former Malaysia boss, such a scheduling would put any club at a disadvantage, something he claimed to have been proven before.
"Teams facing the weaker sides at the start will have the advantage whereas for us, even if we win one and draw four, we will be eight points behind the table leaders. It's not psychologically good for any team. It has been proven that it's very difficult to win the league if you lose, let's say four games and draw two. You can't come back and win the championship, not anywhere in the world.
"Psychologically, any clubs and any coaches would then start facing pressure from the fans in this situation, whereas the players would start feeling the pressure from the coach. It's not good," he explained, while adding that he has raised the matter with the club board.
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