Penang FC sets sight on top 10 finish in Super League

PENANG Football Club has set a top 10 target in the Malaysia Super League tournament this year after finishing as wooden spoonists in last year’s tournament.


Its general manager Jeffrey Chew said the key to a good finish would hinge on their performance in their opening match against Kuala Lumpur City (KL City) in Cheras on Feb 25.


“The opening match is crucial. The result will set the direction for us in the 2023 campaign. It is not an easy away match facing KL City, which finished runners-up in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup last year.


“We gave JDT a good fight in our opening match last year although we lost. Then, we started to go downhill.


“The Penang team has been concentrating on building up its match fitness during the pre-season training.


“Although our budget is lower than most of the other teams, we have to do better. What I like about football is that it is a unifying factor for all the races,” Chew said.


The Penang FC will then entertain Negeri Sembilan in the second match at City Stadium on March 1.


Chew said the City Stadium in George Town and the State Stadium in Batu Kawan would be the home venues for Penang FC this year. The City Stadium can cater to about 10,000 spectators and the State Stadium can accommodate over 20,000 spectators.


He acknowledged that Penang FC was fortunate to remain in the Super League this year despite finishing last among 12 teams.


Indeed, he said Penang FC was lucky twice last year when Melaka United was booted out of the Malaysia Cup tournament for not meeting some financial requirements, leaving Penang to end up in the 11th spot and qualifying for the Malaysia Cup tournament in 2022.


On top of that, Penang FC also gets the chance to play in the Super League when the Malaysian Football League (MFL) revamped the top-tier tournament and expanded it to 16 teams. However, this year’s Super League will start with 15 teams that have met MFL requirements.


Penang FC has been having a magnificent run in its build-up to the Super League, winning a series of friendly games. The Panthers beat teams like Perak 1-0, UiTM 3-1, Negeri Sembilan 2-0, Manjong 3-0, Penang Reserves 4-0 and Geylang International FC 4-0.


Penang FC also recently clinched the Piala Harapan when it defeated Selangor 2-1 in the final. It was an invitational quadrangular tournament in which Kedah and Geylang International FC were also invited.


For the 2023 campaign, Penang FC has signed up for the maximum quota of nine foreign players and several local players.


Only captain, Brazilian Rafael Vitor, 30, was retained out of the five imports from last year’s squad.


The other eight new foreigner players are An Sae-hee (South Korea – age 30, defender), Zaw Min Tun (Myanmar – 31, defender), Cristian Ryu Yamaguchi (Japan – 23, defender), Ousmane Fane (France – 30, defensive midfielder), Curt Jordan Dizon (the Philippines – 30, midfielder), Adriano Aparecido Narcizo (Brazil – 29, forward), Giovane Gomes da Silva (Brazil – 28, forward) and Hassan Ali Saad (Lebanon – 31, forward).


According to Chew, Penang will host Negeri Sembilan in a friendly game at the City Stadium on Saturday (Feb 11) at 9pm.


It will then round up its friendly matches against another team tentatively on Feb 18.


Story by K.H. Ong