Baddrol: The Asian dream a reality now

After winning the 2017 FA Cup, Baddrol Bakhtiar spoke of his eagerness to play in the 2018 AFC Cup, a continental tournament Kedah qualified for after picking up their third trophy in eight months. 

Malaysian clubs – with the exception of Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) – have often taken lightly of the AFC Cup, preferring to focus on winnable domestic competitions instead.

Pahang did that in 2015 by fielding a weak side in the final group matches because of a tight domestic calendar while Zainal Abidin Hassan did the same after switching camps to Selangor in 2016.

Even the Southern Tigers, who won the AFC Cup against all odds in 2015, fielded second-string sides in this year’s round-robin, only sneaking into the newly-introduced Zonal Semi Final on the final day of the group stages. Felda United never really stood a chance as they finished bottom of their group.

Malaysian clubs – with the exception of Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) – have often taken lightly of the AFC Cup, preferring to focus on winnable domestic competitions instead.

Baddrol, however, hopes Kedah can stamp a mark in the competition when their chance arrives next year.

“It’s really up to the management how they want Kedah to approach the competition and the targets set for us, but personally I am relishing the prospects of competing in the AFC Cup,” said Baddrol.

“I believe we have to prepare well for the AFC Cup and give it our best. I’d love it if we can shine there and make Kedah a team other sides in the competition fear.

“I feel ready and so are my teammates. We look forward to playing in Asia, but we will first focus on our Malaysia Super League (MSL) and Malaysia Cup campaigns this season.”

‘Not par with JDT yet but we can win more trophies’

Baddrol has little doubt that Kedah are playing the brand of football that wins trophies and he expects more success to come the Northerners’ way. The Red Eagles have won all three – Malaysia Cup, Sultan Ahmad Shah Cup and FA Cup – of the trophies on offer in Malaysia since October, thus indicating a shift in power from South where JDT are based to Alor Setar.

Baddrol stopped short of saying Kedah were ready to take over from JDT as Malaysia’s leading side, but he felt things were getting really close despite a six point deficit in the MSL. JDT won the last three league titles and look on course to win a fourth in 2017.

Kedah has won three trophies since Oct 2016

“Perhaps we need to gain a little bit more of experience and be consistent in obtaining results … I am keeping my fingers crossed that there are more miracles in store for Kedah.

“We are not at JDT’s standard yet, but we are almost there,” said Baddrol.

Baddrol, however, felt Kedah were capable of winning more trophies and being a member of Kedah’s double treble winning squad in 2007 and 2008, the Malaysian international feels those glorious days can return.

With the style of football we play and the support from the coaching staff and management, it’s not impossible for us to win more trophies and bring back Kedah’s glory days.

- Baddrol

Kedah have a talented group of youngsters that are in their 20s. Baddrol and skipper Khairul Helmi Johari, who are both considered veterans in the teams, only hit 30 in 2018.

“We have a talented bunch of players, including the many youngsters in the team. I was just like them, only younger, when Kedah were a force to be reckoned with 10 years ago,” said Baddrol.

“With the style of football we play and the support from the coaching staff and management, it’s not impossible for us to win more trophies and bring back Kedah’s glory days.

“We have three trophies already … sometimes to think of it, it’s an unbelievable feeling. We worked really hard for it and will need to keep doing that, if not better, to continue winning.

“Kedah will be out to finish strongly in the MSL and retain the Malaysia Cup at the end of the season,” he said.

Photos: Asiana.my