ALOR STAR: The Kedah FA have warned their Premier League squad members, especially the foreigners, to buck up by June or be dropped from the team.
The FA deputy president, Datuk Chong Itt Chew, said that they would have no choice but to drop players who failed to perform to expectation.
“I am puzzled over what has happened to the Kedah team, whose performance declined recently, especially after they drew their latest match against Brunei at home after taking a two-goal lead at half time,” he said when contacted in Australia yesterday.
Itt Chew, who is also the State Industrial, Science and Technology Committee Chairman, and Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain are accompanying the Sultan and Sultanah of Kedah on a visit to Australia until Thursday.
Kedah, despite being unbeaten in seven matches, finished the first-round action in third place in Group A only after beating fourth-placed Kuala Lumpur on goal difference with a total of 13 points following three wins and four draws.
Itt Chew added the foreign players should prove that they were worthy of remaining in the team because it was costly to have them in the team.
“It would be better to rely on the locals to carry on the challenge as well as cutting the costs,” he said, adding that he would ask team manager Bashiruddin Jamil to monitor closely the players' performance.
The four foreigners with the Canaries are defender Cornelius Hugging and striker Shandel Samuel, both from St Vincent and Grenadines, Australian midfielder Gabriel Mendez and Nigerian striker Yahaya Yakubu.
Yakubu has yet to play for Kedah because of a delay in getting his International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
However, Itt Chew that it was not the FA's principle to change players frequently as this would disrupt the team's rhythm.
He said the FA also did not want Kedah, who were the Malaysia Cup runners-up last year, to miss out on the chance to get back into the Super League next season.
Meanwhile, chief coach Azrai Khor Abdullah said that he was disappointed with the 2-2 draw with Brunei but the short period of training with the team by five members who were called up for national duty for the Islamic Solidarity Games next month affected the team's run.
“They were released on Friday to rejoin the state team. The short time gave them no opportunity to train with the team members. When I fielded them on Sunday night, they were already tired,” he said.
Furthermore, Kedah were without defender A. Victor, who picked up injury during national team and had to be rested for at least two weeks.
Four other Kedah players in the national squad under the guidance of Hungarian coach Bertalan Bicskei are team captain Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli, Liew Kit Kong, Ahmad Fauzi Shaari and Hasmawi Hassan.
Azrai said that he would make a slight change to the team's line-up for the Sunday clash against Group A leaders MK Land.
For the match, Kedah will welcome back leftback Shafizan Hashim from a one-match suspension. – Bernama