FFT’s MSL 2016 report card – How did the 12 teams fare?

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Kedah

Expectation at start of season: After reaching the Malaysia Cup final last year, Tan Cheng Hoe’s men were expected to challenge for the title this season.

How they performed: Promoted after winning the Malaysia Premier League (MPL) last year, Kedah wasted little time showing their ability in rubbing shoulders with the big boys.

Kedah were difficult to beat from the start of the season but the Red Eagles also struggled to win matches, drawing seven of their 11 matches in the first half of the season.

Tan Cheng Hoe, who took over midway through the 2014 season, whipped his boys into better shape in the mid-season break and Kedah finished the season on a six-match winning streak.

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Smeltz took to life quickly in the MSL

The signings of Thiago Fernandes and Shane Smeltz powered their attack after Brazilians Sandro da Silva Mendonca kept getting injured and Carlos Kahe proved to be ineffective. Kedah also reached the FA Cup semi-final and Malaysia Cup final.

Star man: Liridon Krasniqi – Just about every Kedah attacking move went through the Kosovan international in the heart of midfield.

Club Grading: A, after a remarkable first season back in the MSL.

Kelantan

Expectation at start of season: The appointment of K. Devan, several questionable signings and financial woes meant Kelantan was up for a rocky season.

How they performed: Kelantan started the season with promise, especially after signing a lucrative sponsorship that was expected to solve their financial concern.

Yet the club’s financial problems still persisted and it did not help that Kelantan were failing to get their season going.

It wasn’t until Velizar Popov was hired in May that Kelantan looked to be moving forward.

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Popov worked wonders and helped Kelantan turn their season around. Photo: Kelantan

The Bulgarian coach’s expressive behaviour in the sidelines drew admirers and players lifted their performance too.

The mid-season signing of Brazilian Wander Luiz added steel to their midfield as Kelantan moved away from the bottom half.

Star man: Baze Ilijoski – Signed at the start of season, the Yugoslav was the only new foreign signing that did the club any good. Ilijoski’s 14 goals soldiered Kelantan to fourth.

Club Grading: C, but it would have been worse if not for Popov’s appointment.