Felda United will be banking on veteran player Indra Putra Mahayuddin (left) to guide the team in their match against Kelantan in the FA Cup semi-final on Tuesday night in Kota Baru. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Felda United are ready to pile more misery on struggling Kelantan when the two teams meet in the FA Cup semi-final first-leg tie at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru on Tuesday night.
Defending champions Kelantan are going through a rough patch, having made changes to their coaching set-up and foreign line-up in the M-League’s second transfer window last month.
The Red Warriors released head coach Steve Darby as well as Lebanese striker Mahmoud Ghaddar and Nigerian defender Obinna Nwaneri following the team’s poor form in the Super League. The team are languishing in seventh spot in the 12-team Super League with 20 points after 14 matches.
The management signed up former Dutch international George Boateng as their new head coach in addition to securing the services of Ghanaian striker Prince Tagoe and Iraqi defender Hussein Alaa Hussein in a bid to turn their fortunes around.
No wonder Felda coach Irfan Bakti is confident that this is the right time to take on Kelantan.
Felda, who are second in the Premier League with an 11-match unbeaten streak, had strengthened their strike force by hiring Perth Glory’s Zambian forward Ndumba Makeche.
“This is the time to strike Kelantan ... they’ve undergone major changes to the team and the coaching set-up ... the players will need more time to gel as a team,” said Irfan.
“Kelantan are struggling with form so we will go for an all-out assault in Kota Baru. We are looking at getting crucial away goals and keep a clean sheet from this match.
“Makeche is our only signing in the second transfer window and I believe he has struck up an understanding with the team ... we have a good chance of winning the tie.”
Irfan, however, remains cautious of Kelantan’s vast experience in Cup competitions and the threat posed by their Liberian hitman Francis Doe and nippy winger Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria.
The suspension of seasoned defender Mohd Shukor Adan is another worrying factor for Irfan.
“Kelantan’s major advantage is their experience ... we’ll also miss Shukor. We’ll be banking on Indra Putra Mahayuddin to guide the other players,” said Irfan.