Thursday, 28 August 2014 | MYT 5:28 PM
Kedah lose three key defenders due to injury
Kedah’s Billy Mehmet (left) vying for the ball with Sarawak’s Ronny Harun during their Malaysia Cup match at the Darul Aman Stadium on Wednesday. — Bernama
GEORGE TOWN: Kedah are left with a decimated backline ahead of Saturday’s crucial trip to Terengganu after losing three key defenders during the bruising 2-1 victory over Sarawak in their Malaysia Cup Group B tie on Wednesday.
Spaniard Jose Gomez dislocated his shoulder after falling awkwardly while fellow centreback Adam Griffiths of Australia twisted his ankle on the slippery Darulaman Stadium pitch. To compound matters, leftback Shafizan Hashim is suspended after receiving a straight red card together with Sarawak’s Junior Eldstal after both players got into a heated altercation late in the first half.
With just a single point separating third-placed Kedah from the pacesetters Perak and Terengganu with two games to go, the Red Eagles coach Tan Cheng Hoe has his work cut out for him.
“To lose three regular defenders, including two import players, at such a crucial stage in the competition is a terrible blow to us,” said Cheng Hoe.
“I always believe that every player in the squad must be ready at all times to head into battle. Even without the three players, the show must go on against Terengganu, and we will go there (Kuala Terengganu) to get a positive result.”
In the first round, Kedah lost 3-2 to Terengganu in Alor Star.
There was a silver lining for Cheng Hoe in the form of national player Mohd Khyril Muhymeen, who came on as an 80th minute substitute against the Crocs. It was the midfielder’s first match in more than four months following a knee operation.
“It is good to see Khyril back on the pitch. He is still rusty after the long layoff but I hope he takes up the challenge to work extra hard for himself and the team,” said the former assistant to national coach Datuk K. Rajagopal.
Kedah moved into contention for a Malaysia Cup quarter-final berth after their second 2-1 win over Sarawak in the space of four days.
On Wednesday, S. Chanturu had given Sarawak the lead in the 20th minute, before Billy Mehmet equalised early in the second period. Kedah scored the winning goal through Syazwan Tajudin in stoppage time after Sarawak had been reduced to nine men seven minutes from the end.
Defender Gabor Gyepes needlessly picked up his second booking of the game for arguing with referee Syed Azhar Kamar.
Said Cheng Hoe: “It was a physically tiring match, and I am proud of my players for fighting till the end to ensure we collected the three points.
“All the players played their hearts out, and I reserve special praise to my 18-year-old midfielder Farhan (Roslan). He was the youngest and smallest on the field but displayed a very high level of confidence.”
The teenager, who played on the right flank, delivered the inch-perfect through ball for Mehmet to score Kedah’s equaliser.