UiTM will be looking to be more than just cannon fodder in their inaugural season in the Super League.
With the new Malaysia Super League season on the horizon, Goal will be bringing to you the complete guide to all 12 teams in the competition. Going through the changes in the respective squads to see where they could finish come the end of the season. Next up on the list is Super League newcomer and the first university side to play in the division, UiTM FC.
How they fared in 2019
UiTM were in the Premier League last year and they finished fifth in the division. They narrowly lost out on a direct promotion spot, losing out to PDRM by a mere one point. But fate would be kind to them when PKNS FC were turned into a feeder club for Selangor and thus freed up a spot in the Super League for an additional and UiTM were the benefactor.
That said, UiTM are no pushover as they were briefly on top of the Premier League last season although the spot on the perch on lasted for two match days. For a team that pride themselves of being university students, needing their players to be taking up courses in the university to be part of the team, that is no small feat.
Montenegrin striker Zarko Korac was the star of the team last season with 13 goals in the league but he has since depart from the team. A solid team that is being kept an eye on by other teamss, someone like Zulkhairi Zulkeply benefiting from a good season to earn a move to Kedah.
What’s new in the squad
Lebanese Rabih Ataya is the star name. Some might remember him from back in 2017 when he scored against Malaysia for his national team as Lebanon came from behind to win 2-1 in what was Nelo Vingada’s first match in charge. The forward has since picked up an AFC Cup winners medal last year and looks set to terrorise defenders in the Super League.
Ousmane Fane formerly of Shrewsbury Town in the England, Victor Nirennold already had experience in Southeast Asia in Vietnam with Da Nang and Gustavo dos Santos who also had a brief spell in Vietnam with Nam Dinh completes the cast of foreign players for UiTM.
Who are the key players
Ataya is the obvious choice because he’s undoubtedly the biggest name in the squad, the one with the most experience. But there has been a mixed bag of outcomes for Lebanese players playing in Malaysia and if Ataya wants to do well, Mohamed Ghaddar is the one to follow compare to the others before him.
Such is the state of the squad, that the foreign players will play a pivotal role in the team ahead of a challenging season for UiTM. That is even more pertinent in defence where Nirennold will have to lead his lesser experienced team mates in difficult situations against the big boys of the division.
Where will they finish in 2020
The Malaysia Cup campaign last season showed that UiTM were far from ready to go head to head against the Super League teams. There would have been plenty of introspection within since in examining how the squad can compete at this higher level. Frank Bernhardt has been brought in and he has plenty to prove.
The German’s exit from the Malaysia Under-23 team was less than savoury and much will depend on him being savvy against teams whose budget and squad are significantly better than his. But football sometimes work in a funny manner and UiTM may yet survive to stay in the top flight for another season. We see them finishing 10th, just about safe.
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