Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Shawky (right) in a file photo. Kelantan coach Steve Darby is hoping he'll be fit for the match against PKNS on Jan 28, 2014.
GEORGE TOWN: It is still early days in the Super League but Kelantan coach Steve Darby is already enjoying his team’s position at the top of the standings.
Kelantan are the only side among the top flight’s 12 teams with maximum points from the first two matches.
And Darby wants the Red Warriors to keep the top spot by beating PKNS FC at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru on Tuesday night.
“I know it’s still early days, but I would rather be at the top than anywhere else right now. There are 10 teams on three points each and I will be happy if everyone else continue to take points off each other, preferably with more draws,” said Darby on Monday.
“We set weekly goals for the team and if they can achieve the results, we can continue our stay at the summit. The attitude and workrate of the players have been fantastic and I cannot fault anybody’s commitment so far.”
Remarkably, out of the 12 matches played in the Super League from Jan 17, none has finished in a draw.
Darby reckons that the team who manage the fatigue factor the best as the season goes on will stand a good chance of being crowned league champions.
Besides the impact of the Kelantan foreign strikers Mohammed Ghaddar and Francis Doe, who between them supplied all three goals in the 2-1 and 1-0 wins over Sime Darby FC and Sarawak respectively, the Kelantan coach also praised his local players.
“Against Sarawak, three players stood out for us. Tengku Hasbullah, Nazmi Faiz and Fakri Saarani all had special duties to perform in midfield and they did their jobs well.
“For the PKNS game, I expect to retain most of the players who started against Sarawak. (Egyptian midfielder) Mohamed Shawky is close to being fit. If he is ready, I will start him and drop either Ghaddar or Francis,” said Darby.
The Englishman has also warned his players to keep a close watch on PKNS’ Croatian hitman Karlo Primorac, who plundered 28 goals for Sime Darby FC last year.
“Someone told me that Primorac is injured and may not be fielded against us, but I am not taking any chances. I have directed my players to keep him under wraps.
“I know (PKNS coach) Wan Jamak for the past 15 years, and all his teams are well organised and tough to break down. The players need to put in another tough shift, just like they did during the wins over Sime Darby and Sarawak,” said Darby.