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Malaysian coaches concede MSL title is Singapore's

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian coaches are seeking divine intervention and one even suggested asking the help of master illusionist David Copperfield as teams involved in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) title chase take stock of the fact the trophy could be heading across the Causeway.

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian coaches are seeking divine intervention and one even suggested asking the help of master illusionist David Copperfield as teams involved in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) title chase take stock of the fact the trophy could be heading across the Causeway.

With two matches left in the season, it looks as though the LionsXII will go on to win the MSL crown in only their second season in Malaysian competitions.

Tuesday night’s results certainly went the way of the Singapore outfit, who were outplayed in long stretches in Ipoh yet escaped with a 1-1 draw against Perak. Over in Johor Bahru, Johor Darul Takzim led 1-0 against Felda United only to concede a late equaliser, while in Kuala Terengganu, Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) also squandered a 1-0 advantage to draw 1-1.

Only Selangor made up ground with a 2-1 win over PKNS, though the Red Giants and Johor are both four points behind the LionsXII’s 40 points, with ATM six adrift.

That means V Sundramoorthy’s men can put the trophy out of reach of the challengers by beating relegation-threatened Felda next Tuesday at Jalan Besar Stadium, a venue where the Singapore outfit have remained unbeaten all season.

But hopes do linger.

Said Johor coach Fandi Ahmad, whose side is the only one to take points away from Jalan Besar this season: “Now we need a miracle to win the league from the LionsXII. They are in the driving seat now and the title is theirs to lose.”

Irfan Bakti, whose Selangor side are ahead of Johor on goal difference, is hoping fate intervenes.

“Selangor lost the league title long ago. When you draw nine matches, you are not going to win the league,” said Irfan. “But who knows? Strange things can happen. If it doesn’t, then the title will belong to the LionsXII.”

ATM, who had been seen as leading contenders, lost their way when they went down 2-1 to Negeri Sembilan last month, a blow they never quite recovered from. One point from their last two matches — including a 2-1 loss to Selangor — looks to have blown away their title hopes.

“The 2013 Super League title is the LionsXII to keep, I wouldn’t dare think of any other scenario,” said ATM coach B Sathianathan.

“Unbeaten at home and so disciplined away, and I cannot see them losing to Felda United next week. The rest of us are only fighting for second spot.”

As for Azuan Zain, the former Johor Malaysia Cup player who took over the coaching reins at Felda only three matches ago, he knows the odds are stacked against his team who can be the spoilers.

“I have to be realistic. They are the leaders, we are second from bottom. They are unbeaten at home on their plastic pitch, the facts and figures speak for themselves,” said Azuan.

“Maybe I need to ask David Copperfield for help. He walked through the Great Wall of China … maybe he can help breach us Jalan Besar Stadium!”

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