Thursday, 20 March 2014 | MYT 7:02 PM
AFC Cup: Fatigue kicks in as Kelantan and Selangor suffer poor results
PETALING JAYA: One of the objectives in raising the foreign player quota in the M-League from two to four this season was for the local teams to play on a level playing field in the second-tier of the AFC Cup competition.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) did the right thing but failed to get their priorities right.
Kelantan and Selangor have not been able to play to their true strengths because of the hectic domestic schedule.
Fatigue has led to the two teams suffering from poor results in the AFC Cup competition.
Depleted Kelantan opened their AFC Cup Group G campaign against Yangon United of Myanmar on Feb 26 with three of their foreign players on the crock list. Only Nigerian defender Obinna Nwaneri started the game, which saw Yangon field all four of their imports to win 5-3.
The Red Warriors suffered the same fate in their latest game – against Ninh Binh FC of Vietnam on Tuesday – when they started with only one foreigner. Kelantan were reduced to nine men and lost 3-2.
At the halfway mark, Kelantan are struggling in third spot in the group with three points from one win and two defeats.
Kelantan coach Steve Darby is baffled by the hectic schedule, which has seen them play 14 games (Super League and AFC Cup) in 42 days.
“I have 22 ‘dead man walking’ now,” said Darby, describing the condition of his players after the game against the Vietnamese side in Kota Baru on Tuesday.
The Selangor team are in a worse predicament – they are winless after three matches. The Red Giants are third in Group F with two points and staring at an early exit.