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MSL 2020 season preview: Perak looks to draw inner strength in rebuild

Perak look within to cover the loss of one of the most influential figures in Malaysian football ahead of a tough 2020 season.

With the new 2020 Malaysia Super League 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 on the list is Perak and his fourth season with The Bos Gaurus looks to be his most challenging yet.

How they fared in 2019

Having finished second in the 2018 season, many looked at Perak as one of the possible candidates that could provide a challenge to Johor Darul Ta’zim for the 2019 title but instead results and performance went they other way despite them reaching another cup final.

So bad were the results that crowd favourites Gilmar Filho and Wander Luiz increasingly lost their credit with the fans and eventually the management. Both were let go and in came Ronaldo Henrique Silva and Raianderson da Costa Morais. While results improved, it was no where near the standards they set 12 months earlier.

Perak eventually ended up in fifth spot, a massive 20 points away from title winners JDT. Defensively they remained solid despite the occasional howlers from Hafizul Hakim as they only suffered two defeats all season that were by more than a single goal margin, exacerbated by the bigger problem up front.

What’s new in the squad

The outgoings are the big headlines with Brendan Gan and Nor Hakim Hassan preferring to ply their trade with Selangor while frustrated former captain Nasir Basharuddin left to seek more playing time with Terengganu FC. Ronaldo as well as Lebanese centre back Hussein El Dor were also shown the door after a less than impressive half a season.

In trying to replace those players, Perak weren’t looking to splash out the big money which is a very smart move from them. Hafiz Ramdan was taken from PKNP FC while Guilherme De Paula, Thierry Chanta Bin and Anthony Golec filled the import slot after Leandro dos Santos and Raianderson were the only ones retained.

That would mean an opportunity for the younger homegrown talents to play their way into the team under Mehmed Durakovic. The Australian has shown a tendency in the past to stick with the more experienced players but given the lack of options now, could hand opportunities to the likes of Ahmad Khairil Anuar, Kenny Pallraj, J. Partiban and Firdaus Sayadi to stake more permanent slots in the team.

Who are the key players

Some say Shahrul Saad is the best local centre back that Malaysia has at the moment and few would argue with that sentiment. The Perak captain has really developed in the past couple of seasons and is undisputed stalwart and star of this Perak team. Had to face a lot of criticism after a dip in form last season and he’ll be determined to answer back this season.

In the absence of Brendan, Leandro is the only senior central midfielder left in Perak’s squad and if in the past, he was given allowance over his demeanour on the pitch, Durakovic should be looking to the 33-year-old to be a more disciplined player in the months to come because his presence will be vital to Perak’s cause to finish as high as possible.

Where will they finish in 2020

On the face of it, nothing much looks likely to change. There’s a set pattern in the way Durakovic sets his team to play and that is unlikely to change despite the difference in personnel. Gaps in the team are there to be filled and one thing which Durakovic is, is that he has the capacity to motivate his players and healthy competition doesn’t hurt any team.

Sixth is where we are expecting the boys from the Silver State to finish come the end of the Super League season in July. But along the way there could be priceless match time for the next batch and if all goes well, they could be a far stronger side in 2021 instead.

Read the other preview: JDT , Kedah , Selangor , Terengganu FC, Pahang

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