1) The Weather
Weather in Malaysia is unpredictable at best. With the stifling humidity, the late afternoon kick-off will see PKNS having the edge as they are acclimatised to playing in the afternoon.
Forecasts see a high chance of a downpour late in the afternoon. This may prove a bane to both teams as they have, in the first six games of the season, been trying to play tidy football.
2) Matias Hadwa and Patrick Ronaldinho
Both players have been consistent performers in the Malaysian league. Both are good at attacking space as well as with the ball and dribbling. Even without the ball both players are intelligent enough to create room for teammates and they are aggressive when pressing for the ball.
Leading from the front, both players will prove to be thorny opponents.
Sarawak needs to defend from the front to starve both players of service.
3) Alif Haikal is getting stronger by the game
Should the PKNS’s academy graduate start as he had done in PKNS’s previous match, he would be the least known of PKNS’s dangermen.
Elavarasan cannot be said to be brave in relying on Alif as the youngster has shown his capabilities from the get go. He scored on his first team debut; in the Malaysia Cup no less, in 2015.
An intelligent player, Alif has the capability of succeeding at the highest level and is one of the league’s outstanding young midfielders. He has impressed with his interceptions, energy and ability to drive from box to box, and Sarawak would be foolish to ignore his abilities.
Sarawak need to keep close tabs on Alif and someone needs to keep him quiet. Anything less than that and Sarawak are looking for trouble.
4) Sarawak must avoid another slow start
The fixture at home against Melaka United is testament to Sarawak’s current inability to get out of the blocks quickly.
The pressure on Sarawak from the fans has gone up a notch or two after another lacklustre performance at home. The season needs an injection of energy and while Sarawak has always found a way to stave off relegation, the competition is tougher this season and there is no room for false starts.
Although David Usop’s side demonstrated their resolve by latterly coming back into the match against Melaka United, recovering from the dismal start to the league may take its toll on both the players and fans. Sarawak’s initial slackness in their games so far suggests that there needs to be a sharp improvement in their focus when they visit PKNS, whose players will surely be eager to notch another three points after only drawing 1-1 with T-Team last week.
5) Sarawak must take the cautious approach with Shamie Iszuan
There is no denying his ability.
But David Usop must tread carefully with Shamie if the young winger is to last the distance for club and country this season.
Players wants to play every game and feel as if they are ‘in a cave’ when they don’t. Shamie is a talent that needs managing this early on in his career. Looking long term, unless his pains go completely, then he must only be used only when needed.
Shamie has just returned from injury and started in the game against Melaka United. There was a slight hint of hesitancy to his play and this is to be expected from a youngster who has been out for the most part of pre season and is only starting to get into the groove. David Usop must be acutely aware of the need to avoid burn-out with Shamie and no one wants a recurrence of his injury.
Should he be deemed to be fit to play against PKNS, he must start producing more in the final third to ensure Mark Hartmann and Mateo Roskam are not denied of service. As the most high profile of Sarawak’s homegrown players, much of the responsibility to shine falls to Shamie.
Shamie needs to push on at PKNS on Saturday.