After a successful lengthy stay in Indonesia, Felda United midfield maestro Zah Rahan Krangar tells FFT that the two-horse title race with Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) is his toughest battle yet...
When loyalty and long-stays are rare commodities among imports in Malaysian football, Liberian Zah Rahan Krangar can count himself to be a rarity.
When then second-tier side Felda United signed Krangar for the 2014 season, little was known of the midfield maestro.
Back home, he was already an international and in Indonesia, where he spent nine glorious years at three clubs, Krangar was a star.
Fast forward to two years later, Krangar is in his third season with the Fighters, having led the club to promotion in his first season.
The 31-year-old is pulling the strings alongside Uzbek Lutfulla Turaev in midfield in Felda’s Malaysia Super League (MSL) title race with defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), who have a two-point lead at the top with seven matches to go.
Krangar, who won the Indonesia Super League (ISL) titles in 2011 and 2013 with Persipura Jayapura, is hoping he will win a trophy with Felda this year.
The 2007 Indonesian league player of the year also won the league and three Indonesia Cups with Sriwijaya during his early years in Southeast Asia.
Having already beaten third-place Selangor in the MSL, Krangar believes matches against Kelantan and JDT will be decisive in their bid to deny the Southern Tigers a hat-trick of league titles.
I’ve been waiting to win something since I got here and fingers crossed, this is the year Felda become champions
“We are feeling great to be in this position … this is what football is about, challenging for trophies and such. Everyone at Felda is fighting very hard to win the championship,” said Krangar.
“The win against Selangor was important in our quest to win the title race. It’s still a long way to go with seven matches but the matches against Kelantan and JDT could be decisive. It’s turning out to be the most exciting title race I’ve been in.
“I’ve been waiting to win something since I got here and fingers crossed, this is the year Felda become champions. It was a great feeling winning those trophies in Indonesia and being able to replicate that here will be satisfying.”
When asked to compare his stay in Indonesia and Malaysia, Krangar felt the difference between the two countries were not drastic, but there was no hiding where he prefers.
“Life here is good … I love it and I’m not thinking of leaving Malaysia to return home until the end of my career,” said Krangar.
“I enjoyed my time in Indonesia but Felda is the best team I’ve played for in Southeast Asia. The infrastructure is better and more ideal for a footballer. The atmosphere is a little different though … it’s still good nevertheless. I played in the FA Cup final against Pahang in 2014 and the crowd were good.”
Krangar, however, isn’t thinking about retirement just yet and even joked that he was in a better condition than teammate, compatriot and MSL top scorer Francis Forkey Doe, who had on Tuesday told press he was feeling tired after playing five games in 14 days.
A change in format starting this year sees the MSL and Malaysia Cup held concurrently as part of efforts to improve domestic competitions.
I am in good shape and don’t feel tired.
The move allowed the MSL to be stretched over nine months but it has not been all rosy this year as the start of the season was delayed for numerous reasons – including last-ditch attempts to sign a television deal, last year’s spill-over effect due to the haze, needless exhibition matches and long breaks for international call-ups.
While plenty of teams, coaches and players are already complaining of fatigue, Krangar is raring to go.
“I am in good shape and don’t feel tired. A player has got to be fit for a schedule like this and ensure they remain healthy. We can’t control our body if we feel tired, so a lot of rest is good. Fortunately, we have been getting lots of that here at Felda,” said Krangar.
“The matches are coming thick and fast, and we haven’t been doing too much of hard training because of this. It’s all about recovery, matches and repeating that.
“But at the end of the day everyone’s body is different. I feel great but Doe isn’t the same because he is built differently … his body is different,” he said.
Main Photo: Felda United