FFT's MSL Preview: Kelantan
Kelantan were the ultimate underachievers in football before the reign of Kelantan Football Association (KFA) president Tan Sri Annuar Musa, with the former sports minister making dramatic changes nine years ago.
Kelantan's 2016 Transfers
- Abdul Manaf Mamat (Terengganu)
- Faizal Abu Bakar (PDRM)
- Muslim Ahmad (free agent)
- Ramadhan Abdul Hamid (Harimau Muda)
- Faris Shah Rosli (Harimau Muda)
- Rozaimi Azwar (Sabah)
- Daudsu Jamaluddin (JDT)
- Indra Putra Mahayuddin (Felda)
- Amiridzwan Taj Tajuddin
- Austin Amutu
- Amar Rohidan
- Ahamd Fakri Saarani
- Fitri Omar
- Gilmas Jose da Silva Filho
- Erwin Carrillo
- Faizol Nazlin Sayuti
He used football as a tool to unite the people of Kelantan and their first ever triumph in the Malaysia Cup in 2010 was the greatest moment for the east coast side.
It sparked a revolution and Kelantan went on to win titles for the next three seasons. But things have gone quiet over the past two years.
Last season, Kelantan players were said to be unhappy with management as they were not getting paid on time, while two coaches – Dutchman George Boateng and Azraai Khor – were sacked after underperforming.
Under Azraai, Kelantan managed to reach the FA Cup final in 2015 but lost 3-1 to Fandi Ahmad’s LionsXII of Singapore.
That wasn’t enough for the coach to keep his job after four months as he was replaced by caretaker trainer Zahasmi Ismail.
Kelantan were lucky to stay just above the relegation zone in the Super League, finishing ninth overall, and their football in the Malaysia Cup was hardly inspiring as they failed to make the knockout stage of the competition.
Things this season, however, look promising in terms of budget. Vida Beauty, famous for its Qu Puteh brand have injected RM16 million (US$3.54 million) into the team as the official sponsor, giving Kelantan the financial stability to challenge Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and Selangor on all fronts this season.
Kelantan have also received another RM4 million from Chengal Jati Sdn. Bhd.
Vida Beauty chief executive Datuk Seri Dr Hasmiza Othman has suggested that Kelantan change their jersey and the colour of the Sultan Mohamed IV Stadium in Kota Baru to pink for the season.
KFA has agreed to her request to change their away jersey and also to repaint certain sections of their venue in pink.
The hype generated by the sponsorship has generated a lot of interest as recent pre-season matches attracted huge crowds to their stadium for the wins over third-tier side AirAsia FC (2-1) and Thailand’s Yala United (3-1).
Kelantan, under newly appointed coach K. Devan, have also beefed up their squad with several local signings.
Midfielder Indra Putra Mahayuddin – who last played for the national team in the 2014 AFF Cup – along with striker Abdul Manaf Mamat, Mohd Faizal Abu Bakar and Muslim Ahmad are among the new recruits.
They have also promoted five youngsters from their President’s Cup squad and it will be interesting to see whether they can keep up in top-flight football.
Right-back Daudsu Jamaluddin has also returned to Kelantan after a successful two-year stint with Johor Darul Ta'zim while Australian defender Jonathan McKain was the only foreign player retained from last season.
But while Kelantan pack renewed confidence to challenge for trophies, pundits are not raising their expectations for the upcoming season too high yet.
They may have signed quality locals but they did not represent the cream of the crop of stars available, while their delay finalising three more foreign signings could affect their preparations for the season.
FFT'S MSL PREDICTION: 9th
A new era is promised, but unfortunately they did not get to pick the cream of the crop.
COACH CORNER – K. Devan
Highly successful earlier in his career, things have gone quiet for K. Devan in recent years. So he knows the pressure is on the deliver at Kelantan.
Read his thoughts as he prepares to coach his ninth professional team.
STAR MAN – Indra Putra Mahayuddin
He many not have his old pace or be able to have quite the same impact on games, but Indra's presence will still worry MSL defences.
Preparing for his final season, click here to read about this incredibly successful Malaysian veteran.
VIEW FROM THE FANS
From 2010 to 2013, Kelantan picked up no fewer than five trophies, including a Cup double in 2012.
But the past two seasons failed to bear fruit. So do the fans feel they can get back to winning ways?
YOUNG GUN – Fakhrul Zaman Wan Abdullah Zawawi
Injuries and a serious illness nearly forced this youngster to give up the game. But he persevered and is now aiming to make an impact at the Red Warriors.