Kedah's hard work starts now, says club great

Tan Cheng Hoe is a popular figure in Kedah and it’s with good reason; the former player and current coach has taken the club back to where it feels it belongs, the Malaysia Super League (MSL). 

Tan knows, however, that the hard work really starts now.

The fans will expect the team will do well in the Super League

You can say that we are like a rookie when it comes to the Super League,” he told FourFourTwo.

“The difference between the Premier League and the Super League is real and it is not easy.

“I want my players to do their best and it is important to stay in the league in this first season. We don't want to be relegated back to the second division after we worked so hard to get out of there.

“That is the message from the management too.”

Kedah finished top of the Premier League in 2015, above Penang, but they haven’t been splashing the cash as much as their fellow promoted team, let alone the traditional big boys of the top flight.

“We know it won't be easy,” Tan continued. “Most of the other teams have been buying and signing good players so it is tough for us. We don't have a big budget. Mostly I have young players coming in. I retained all the local players, mostly young players who don't have much experience in the Super League.”

According to the boss, however, local support will make a difference. “The fans are very excited and very patient. You can see the atmosphere at our stadium when we have a sold out crowd. The fans will expect the team will do well in the Super League and they can help us do so.”

The Red Hawks are hard at training ahead of the new season. Photo: Kedah FA

This is not only a chance for Tan to test himself against the top tacticians in the country, but also to put into practice the coaching course he took in China in the latter stages of 2015.

It almost forced him to miss the final of the Malaysia Cup, but the boss made it back just in time.

“The study for the coaching licence certificate was good. I learned many things and I can use that knowledge throughout the season,” he said. “It is a tool to help me in the Super League, but it is not a guarantee of success.”

Neither is money or the arrival of big stars, but there is hope that the main foreign signing of the off-season can make a difference.

Chidi Edeh scored plenty of goals in the promotion season, but the Nigerian marksman has been replaced by Brazil's Carlos Kahe.

“He is a real number nine and we are excited about him coming here. If you look at his CV you will see that he has played in the Bundesliga for Borussia Monchengladbach and in Turkey, which is also not an easy place to play.

“He is around 33 so is not young but he is experienced. He will benefit the team and I hope he can score many goals and help our young players.”

Main photo: FAS