Kelantan's Francis Doe (right) scored one of his team's three goals in the 3-1 win over Penang in the Malaysia Cup match on Friday. - Filepic
GEORGE TOWN: Kelantan coach George Boateng paid tribute to his players for getting the Red Warriors into the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals – with a match to spare.
The 3-1 win over Penang at the City Stadium on Friday, coupled with Johor Darul Ta’zim’s 1-0 victory over Armed Forces, ensured both the winners marched into the last eight from Group C.
Boateng was happy with Kelantan’s fighting qualities in bouncing back from Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Forces in Kota Baru.
Against Penang, Wan Shahrul Nizam put the Red Warriors ahead only for Luiz Ricardo to equalise after the break. But Kelantan’s quality came through as Izuan Rosli and Francis Doe scored to book their spot in the last eight.
“I’m glad that the hard work paid off for us,” said Boateng.
“Everyone could see how difficult Group C was. We had a couple of setbacks against JDT and Armed Forces but I’m proud of my players for continuing to work hard.”
The former Dutch international added that Kelantan were able to maintain their performance despite being hampered by playing one foreign player for most of their Malaysia Cup matches.
Striker Doe is the only import who starts regularly, while defensive midfielder Mohamed Shawky returned late from Egypt after going AWOL. He came on as a substitute in Penang. Kelantan had already terminated Ghana forward Prince Tagoe’s contract for poor performance while Egyptian defender Hussein Alla Hussein is also no longer with the team.
Kelantan complete their Group C fixtures with a dead match against JDT on Tuesday before a month-long break for the national senior and Under-23 teams’ assignments.
Kelantan won the Malaysia Cup in 2010 and 2012, and were runners-up in 2009 and last year.