PETALING JAYA: Kedah are looking to downsize their squad to give their President Cuppers a chance to play in the first team.
The Red Eagles, who were plagued by non-payment of players’ wages last season, seemed to have learnt their lesson.
In one of their cost-cutting moves, they have released centreback Khairul Helmi Johari, winger Hadin Azman and wingbacks Alif Yusof and Syakir Hamzah.
And coach Aidil Sharin has only retained players who fit into his plans for next season and believes this is the best time to expose the President Cup players to first-team action.
“I don’t need 30 players in the squad. We have the President Cup team if we need depth and at the same time, they will get high-level exposure too, ” said the Singaporean.
“We just need 25 players and we’ll make sure, playing-wise, they get a chance. So far, preparations have been good.
“We are in the midst of signing five local players. We want to do well again next season, but we know it’s not going to be easy because lots of teams have beefed up their sides.”
Those retained are their inspirational captain and midfielder Baddrol Bakhtiar, wingback Rizal Ghazali, strikers Kpah Sherman and Tchetche Kipre, midfielder Amirulhisyam Awang Kechik and goalkeepers Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim and Shahril Saa’ri. It is also learnt that their Brazilian defender Renan Alves is close to penning an extension.
Their new signing thus far is UiTM’s Lebanese international winger and Rabih Ataya and there are rumours that they will rope in Dutch-Indonesian midfielder Marc Klok on loan from Persija Jakarta.
Aidil also revealed that Irfan Zakaria has been offered an extension but the national centreback has yet to decide.