MALACCA will be out to defend their Division One Razak Cup title starting this weekend, but first, they have to shoot down favourites Police.
Police, who won the Division Two title last season, won not only promotion but also gained national skipper Razie Rahim and midfielder Nabil Fiqri.
Both of the joined Police training on May 8, but have received release letters to play in the Razak Cup.
Police will also have former national players Baljit Singh Sarjab, who scored 17 goals last season, Kelvinder Singh, Jivan Mohan and Megat Azrafiq.
"With the inclusion of the country's No 1 drag flicker Razie, I believe we have a good chance of finishing top-four in Division One," said former national player Gurmit Singh who will be coaching Police.
Police are in Group A with defending champions Malacca, Johor and Pahang. In Group B are Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Terengganu and Negri Sembilan.
‘Malacca Hurricanes’, as they are better known, won the Razak Cup in 2005, repeated the feat in 2009 and defeated Perak 1-0 in the 2015 final for only their third title. They open their Division One campaign against Pahang Saturday which also sees Johor playing Police.
Malacca skipper B. Namasivayam said: “Our early target is to qualify for the semi-finals. There are no easy matches as every team is geared up strongly for the Razak Cup.”
“The Police team is also in our group and we are certainly expecting tough matches ahead," said Namasivayam.
In the men's Division Two Group A are Penang, Selangor, Kedah, Perlis and in Group B are Armed Forces, Kelantan, Sarawak and Sabah.
The prize money for Division One is RM10,000 for the champion, RM7,000 for runner-up and RM5,000 for finishing third. Division Two winner gets RM5,000, runners-up RM3,000 and third-placed team RM2,000.
The women's Razak Cup will make its debut, 53 years after the men's tournament was incepted in 1963.
A total of 12 state teams alongside Police and Armed Forces will compete in the inaugural women's league, bringing the total number of teams to 14 divided into three groups. Only Kelantan and Perlis have opted out.
Pahang, Sarawak, Police, Johor and Selangor are in Group A. Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan, Armed Forces, Terengganu and Sabah are Group B while Malacca, Perak, Penang and Kedah are in Group C.
The women’s champions will receive RM5,000, runners-up RM3,000 and RM2,000 for finishing third.