KUALA LUMPUR – After an enforced hiatus of almost five months following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the clash of two local football giants – Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and Pahang – on Aug 28 will further boost the resumption of the 2020 Malaysia League (M-League) competition.
The match which will take place at the Darul Makmur Stadium, Kuantan, is one of 84 Super League and Premier League fixtures that will be held in the next 44 days before the season ends on Oct 10.
With each team has seven matches to play, JDT is on track to create its own history, winning the Super League title seven times in a row after successfully defending the title for six seasons since 2014.
The Johor Southern Tigers squad is now leading the Malaysian Super League table with 10 points, closely followed by the 2018 Malaysia Cup champions, Perak, with two points separating the two teams, while Pahang with six points at third place.
The Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and Melaka currently occupy the bottom two places in the Super League and faces elimination at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, in the Premier League, the main focus is on the three-cornered competition between Kelantan United, Penang and Kuala Lumpur, all vying for one automatic slot left to the 2021 Super League competition.
Terengganu FC II (TFC II) with ‘feeder’ status leads the Premier League standings with 12 points after maintaining an unbeaten record in the first four games, while Kelantan United is second with nine points followed by Penang (eight points) and Kuala Lumpur (eight points).
Kuching FA and Perak 2 are the bottom two teams in the Premier League.
Once both competitions concluded, the qualified teams must then prepare the players to face the Malaysia Cup campaign which is scheduled to start on Oct 16.
The Malaysia Cup, which is one of the oldest tournaments in the Asian region, has dropped the group stage, and will now be a knock-out tournament.
All M-League matches will be played without spectators and the venues are registered with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), apart from undergoing the disinfection and sanitation processes as a preventive measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The FA Cup competition which offers slots to the 2021 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup and Challenge Cup have been cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Malaysian Football League (MFL) as the M-League organiser, has set that the Super League winners will be given automatic slot to the 2021 Asia Champions League (ACL) while the Malaysia Cup champions and runners-up in the Super League will get a slot to the AFC 2021 Cup.
The effect of COVID-19 pandemic that hit the world was also felt by all the teams competing with most of them take the approach of cutting the salaries of players and officials.