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Tuesday October 8, 2013 MYT 9:32:00 PM
Tuesday October 8, 2013 MYT 9:34:59 PM
by eric samuel
Kelantan's Indra Putra Mahayuddin hugged by Mohd Faiz Subri after scoring a goal against Pahang in the Malaysia Cup. Kelantan are expected to bring along about 50,000 fans for their Malaysia Cup semi-final match against the Armed Forces. – Bernama Photo
PETALING JAYA: This will be like the fight between David and Goliath.
Armed Forces, with a meagre 300 supporters, are expected to face Kelantan’s red army of about 50,000 fans in the first-leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-finals at the Shah Alam Stadium on Oct 18.
But Forces obviously do not fear the Red Warriors, nor their band of supporters because the soldiers have decided to switch the match from the smaller 15,000 capacity Selayang Stadium to the 80,000-seater Shah Alam Stadium.
Forces coach B. Sathianathan admitted that the change of venue would make a telling difference to the visiting team.
“You can play the game in any part of the country and you can rest assured that the Kelantan fans will turn up in droves,” said the Gladiators’ coach on Tuesday.
“Taking into consideration the security aspect and the expected huge turnout, it is best that the game be played at a bigger venue.
“It’s okay on my part because the game will be played on a level playing field ... that’s fine with me. It is not like we are switching the game to be played on an artificial pitch or something like that. The fact remains that we will face the red army wherever we play. For sure, we will not have home advantage.”
The only advantage for Forces is that they can expect to receive a bumper gate collection – probably their biggest this season.
The Shah Alam Stadium is also the venue where Kelantan beat the soldiers 3-2 in the Malaysia Cup final last season, with Indra Putra Mahayuddin scoring the winner in extra-time.
Sathianathan knows only too well how good the Kelantan team are and how passionate their fans can be.
“I was with them (Kelantan) for two seasons from 2009. Many of their key players have left but the core of the team is still intact and that makes a big difference as to why they are still the team to beat this season. And that’s not forgetting their quality foreign signings,” he said.
The Red Warriors have depth in quality, thanks to such illustrious names like skipper Mohd Badhri Radzi, Mohd Norfarhan Mohd, Azizi Mat Rose, Khairul Fahmi Che Mat and Indra Putra. They also have two of the better foreign signings in the M-League in centreback Obinna Nwaneri and striker Dickson Nwakaeme, both from Nigeria.
Whatever the result in Shah Alam, Forces will have to be prepared to face the wrath of the red army a second time – in the return leg of the semi-finals at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru on Oct 25.
Forces had better be wary of playing in Kota Baru. That was where Kelantan ran riot to thrash Johor Darul Takzim 6-1 in the return-leg of the quarter-finals.
Tags / Keywords:
football, Malaysia Cup, Kelantan, Armed Forces, ATM, Red Warriors, B. Sathianathan
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