2014 Malaysia Cup team preview: Kelantan
Home Ground: Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium, Kota Bahru
Nickname: The Red Warriors
Super League: 6th
FA Cup: Semi-finals
Last Season's Malaysia Cup: Final
What happened in the league?
It was a season to forget for Kelantan as they suffered their worst ever campaign in the Super League since their promotion in 2009. They topped the league standings for a brief period, but that proved to be a false dawn as more inconsistent performances followed. The experienced Steve Darby eventually bit the dust as the club opted to appoint former Dutch international George Boateng in his place. However, things did not exactly improve as they finished 6th, 13 points behind JDT.
They are one of the best sides in Malaysia, having finished in the top two no less than four times since their promotion five years ago. Also, not many teams leave Kota Bahru unscathed.
The departures of most of their titles-winning players over the years have hurt them as they finished outside the top two in the past two seasons. Also, with four defeats and one draw at home, their much-vaunted Sultan Muhmmad IV Stadium is not that much of a fortress for them anymore.
On paper, the Red Warriors ooze quality all over the pitch, from Khairul Fahmi Che Mat in goal to Badhri Radzi and Ahmad Fakri Saarani patrolling the midfield to Liberian hotshot Francis Forkey Doe. That is not counting rising Malaysian talents like Brendan Gan, Fitri Omar and Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria.
Infuriatingly inconsistent, their inability to string a series of decent results together nearly cost them a spot in the top half despite boasting a good squad. For the incredible attacking talents that they possess in their squad, they are the lowest scorers amongst the top six sides. Doe, in particular, failed to hit double figures.
The player to watch
People will always talk about Piya, Shawky or Doe, but it is perhaps good to keep a lookout for the up-and-rising Brendan. Since joining the club in the April transfer window, the Australian-born Malaysian has impressed with his playmaking abilities from midfield.
The jury is still very much out for George Boateng. Despite starting his tenure well with two straight league wins, the team went back to their inconsistent form, including recording three defeats in the final four league games. Additionally, his team selections have been brave to say the least, dropping captain Piya on a number of occasions.
Group stage fixtures
Aug 13 – JDT (A)
Aug 19 – Penang (H)
Aug 22 – ATM (A)
Aug 26 – ATM (H)
Aug 29 – Penang (A)
Sep 2 – JDT (H)