MSL Talking Points: Kelantan act holier than thou, JDT get huge let-offs from referees

It was another week of attention grabbing headlines in Malaysia. From only six players reporting for national duty to Kelantan pinning poor form blame on Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP), here are the weekly highlights...

KELANTAN’S BLAME GAME

The Red Warriors have not started the second half of the season on a good note, losing to Sarawak 2-0 in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) and later relegation battlers Melaka United in the Malaysia Cup on Saturday.

A 3-1 win over second tier’s UiTM in the Cup was also recorded, but the two defeats led to Kelantan advisor Tan Sri Annuar Musa sarcastically ‘congratulating’ FAM and FMLLP for the poor performances.

Kelantan are blaming everyone but themselves

Days earlier, he alleged Kelantan were not aware of transfer restrictions and were informed by text message that they would be allowed to sign new players if they agreed to sell Mohamed Ghaddar to Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).

Kelantan were allowed to register Abou Bakr as Ghaddar’s replacement as JDT reportedly paid a hefty figure, but the move for L’Iman Seydi to replace Alessandro Celin was blocked because FMLLP felt signing him would not help improve the club’s financial situation.

Having initially claimed that Seydi came at no additional cost, Annuar is now claiming that Kelantan are forced to pay salaries of both Celin and Seydi.

FMLLP responded to allegations with a brief statement saying “the blame game must end” and that  the respective “team managements decides how much they spend and when they fail it is not someone else’s fault”.

REFEREE DECIDES

Referees come under the spotlight in Malaysia a lot and there is simply no other reason apart from the appalling standards.

Such was the case again when Johor Darul Ta’zim visited Terengganu in the Malaysia Cup on Saturday.

Referees were once again in the spotlight

The Turtles dominated the match and have every right to feel aggrieved about two major decisions as the match ended in a stalemate.

First, JDT’s Azamuddin Akil was very lucky to escape a sending off after a dangerous challenge on Faiz Nasir.

Nowhere close to the ball, Azamuddin stamped at the small-sized midfielder’s shin from the side. A foul was given but not even a yellow was brandished.

Terengganu’s Issey Nakajima-Farran then felt he had earned a penalty in the second half after JDT right-back Azrif Nasrulhaq handled the ball in the box.

Replays showed the Canadian pushing the ball past Azrif before a nudge to get around, only for Azrif to drop and deliberately pull the ball back with his hand. Referee Fairuzi Mat Desa waved play on.

CLUB VS COUNTRY

MSL and Malaysia Premier League (MPL) teams flexed their muscles and refused to release their under-22 players for centralised camp on July 5 ahead of the AFC under-23 qualifiers, which takes place in Bangkok from July 19-23.

Instead most of the players will only report for duty on July 12, thus taking away one week of preparation coach Ong Kim Swee had planned for.

The under-22 team failed to show up for training

While the question of national pride popped up, the teams have actually done nothing wrong and have every right to even deny their players from competing in the competition ahead altogether because there are no regulations compelling them to release the players.

Furthermore for the 16 teams also competing in the Malaysia Cup, they will need as many players available as possible because they play 12 matches in 40 days.

GOOD TIMES IN PERAK

Australian Mehmet Durakovic is getting the Bos Gaurus on the right track since the season resumed after the mid-season break.

Three wins out of three – against Kedah, PKNS and Kuala Lumpur – in all competitions marked Perak’s best run since July last year and Durakovic is starting to look settled in Ipoh for the first time since he took charge in February.

Perak are flying high

Perak stuck to the same line-up in the three matches, something that could come back to haunt them as the matches pile up, but Durakovic explained that his team needed consistency first.

“I will rotate of course … there are plenty of matches ahead. We needed some wins on the belt and having taken a one month break, this was the best time to stick to a line-up and build confidence.

“It’s working good so far and I happy with how things are going,” Durakovic told FourFourTwo.

Perak-based MPL side PKNP are also going great in the Malaysia Cup. Playing in the Malaysia Cup for the first time, the second-tier newbies marked their debut with a 2-1 win over MSL’s T-Team and held Pahang 1-1 in the second round of group match.

PKNS HIT PANIC BUTTON

Stuck in the relegation battle, PKNS pushed the panic button after just two matches in July by ‘resting’ E. Elavarasan from the dugout.

The Red Ants are 10th in the MSL standings, one place above the relegation zone, but they are level on points with 11th-place Melaka United. Ninth-placed Sarawak are two points ahead while T-Team are four points away.

PKNS were held 1-1 by Melaka on July 1 before losing their Malaysia Cup opener to a much stronger Perak four days later.

The Selangor-based club have installed assistant coach Adam Abdullah as caretaker coach but are believed to be on the lookout for a more experienced coach.

Among the names linked include former Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal, who is often spotted at the club’s games, and Azraai Khor.