KOTA KINABALU (Sept 16): Sabah FC have been drawn alongside defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in Group D of the Malaysia Cup that will kick off next weekend.
Fellow Super League outfit PJ City FC are also in the group while a fourth team from the Premier League will complete the group.
Team manager Marzuki Nasir remains optimistic of the Rhinos’ chances to advance into the next stage despite their poor league records against JDT and PJ City FC.
Sabah FC suffered league defeats to recently crowned Super League champions JDT 4-1 and 2-0 while going down with identical scores of 1-0 to PJ City FC.
“Personally I think it was a fair Malaysia Cup draw for Sabah FC, although it will be tougher for us based on our league meetings this season.
“We lost twice to JDT and PJ City FC respectively in the league but we are determined to end our jinx against them (in the Malaysia Cup).
“I believe the squad will have found new confidence, especially with the appointment of Datuk Ong Kim Swee as head coach.
“The head coach will certainly bring fresh ideas to the team and at the same time come up with new game plans or tactics to the squad.
“For that I am optimistic that we will advance into the knock-out stage,” said Marzuki when contacted on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the fourth team in Group D will only be known when the Premier League campaign ends next week, with the top five teams excluding feeder clubs cementing their place in the prestigious competition.
The Malaysia Cup draw conducted Wednesday saw all four of the groups have been decided involving Super League teams.
In Group A, the teams are Penang FC, Kuala Lumpur City FC, Sri Pahang FC and the second placed Premier League team.
Group B comprises Terengganu FC, Selangor FC, Perak FC and the Premier League third placed team.
Super League runners-up Kedah Darul Aman FC are in Group C with Melaka United FC as well as the Premier League champions and fifth placed team respectively.
The fourth placed Premier league team will be in Group D with JDT, PJ City FC and Sabah FC.
Current Premier League leaders Negeri Sembilan FC and Sarawak United are already assured of a place in the Malaysia Cup.
That leaves PDRM FC, Kuching City FC, Kelantan FC and Kelantan United FC vying for the remaining three slots.
The Malaysia Cup opening group fixtures will be played on September 25 and September 26. Only the two top teams in each group will qualify into the quarterfinals.
The final of the Malaysia Cup will be played on November 30.