GEORGE TOWN: Kedah face a goalkeeping crisis ahead of their final Malaysia Cup Group A home game against leaders Lions XII on Friday night.
The Red Eagles shot themselves in the foot after losing 3-2 to Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) II at the Darulaman Stadium in Alor Setar on Tuesday.
Now, they are faced with a must-win situation against the only unbeaten side in the group.
Against JDT II, Kedah’s first-choice goakeeper Abdul Hadi Hamid hobbled off injured in the 44th minute with the score tied at 1-1.
Hadi’s replacement, the 18-year-old Muhd Syazwan Abdullah, was a bundle of nerves. The teenager was on the field for barely two minutes when he made a sloppy mistake which resulted in Singapore international Baihakki Khaizan scoring JDT II’s second goal in first-half stoppage time.
Syazwan was also at fault for JDT II’s winning goal, scored by Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak 10 minutes from the end.
Besides Hadi and Syazwan, the other goalkeeper in the Kedah squad is the inexperienced 21-year-old Firdaus Mohamad.
“We made it difficult for ourselves by losing to JDT II at home,” said Kedah coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
“The young reserve keeper (Syazwan) made a couple of errors and we got punished. I cannot blame him much because Hadi has been playing virtually every minute for us this season. The two reserve keepers are ‘rusty’ because they lack match time.
“Hadi is definitely out against the Lions. It’s such an important match and I’ll only decide who to field before the game.
“I’m also worried with the players’ ability to cope against a well-rested Lions team. We only have three days to recover.”
The Singaporeans lead the group on seven points – three ahead of Kedah and JDT II. Terengganu, who take on JDT II at the Pasir Gudang Stadium on Saturday, have one point.