Newbies Kelantan United aim high – win the league title

  • Football
  • Thursday, 07 May 2020

PETALING JAYA: Kelantan United may be the new kids on the block, but they certainly have the ambition to mingle with the big boys.

The team, who topped the third-tier M3 to win promotion to Premier League last year, have started well in the second-tier and are lying in second place with nine points. Of their four matches, they have won three and lost one.

With the league suspended now, head coach Zahasmi Ismail said that, if the matches resume in September, all seven remaining matches will be all-important for the east coast club whose target is to qualify for the Super League and the prestigious Malaysia Cup.

The Malaysian Football League (MFL) said the Super and Premier Leagues will begin on Sept 1-2 and are expected to end on Sept 26-27, with the matches being played in a single-round format.

The Malaysia Cup will commence on Oct 17-18 and end with the final on Nov 7. The FA Cup has been cancelled.

The Malaysia Cup will have 16 teams – 11 from the Super League and five from the Premier League – competing in a knockout format. The group stage of the competition has been scrapped for this season.

“We cannot afford to lose points because we are facing a tough fight from Penang and Kelantan. If we qualify for the Malaysia Cup, it will be historic for the team because it is not easy for a new team to play alongside the top sides in the country,” he said.

“To be frank, it is hard to keep up to our performance with the current situation, but we are not losing hope. When I first took over the team, the dream was to get them to the Super League and Malaysia Cup.

“However, the Malaysia Cup will be a knockout format, and anything can happen. So now, the focus will be on the league, and then we will focus on our Cup strategy, if we qualify.”

Zahasmi admitted that the Covid-19 pandemic was a challenge like never before for him as a coach because he has to ensure that the fitness levels of his boys were consistent although they are not on the field.

Teams will be allowed to return to training in August if all goes well and Zahasmi is hopeful his players are following the programmes set by the coaching staff.

“It is tough because we have not been on the field for a while. It will be a challenge when they return to training in three months. I have to find ways for them to get their match aura when the league resumes.

“But I have faith in the boys,” he said.
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