Kelantan worried over injury to goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi
Defending champions Kelantan are through to the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals after a hard fought 1-1 draw against club side Johor FC in Pasir Gudang on Saturday but coach Datuk M. Karathu is more concerned with the thigh injury picked up by his first choice goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.
Also cause for concern is S. Chanturu, who was stretchered out in the 66th minute with a recurring ankle injury. He was replaced by Mohd Izuan Solehudin.
"I will only know the extent of his (Chanturu's) injury when we get to train tomorrow (today). The match got a bit rough in the second half and some players picked up some hard knocks. Chanturu was one of them," said Karathu.
Khairul picked up a thigh injury after a clash with a Johor FC player midway in the first half and did not come out to play after the break. He was replaced by second choice Mohd Shahrizan Ismail as Kelantan held on for a draw and a place in the last eight. Also, they can thank Johor FC's poor finishing for collecting the vital point to advance.
Kelantan, however, had some anxious moments especially when news filtered through that newly promoted Sarawak had stunned high-riding Felda United 1-0 in Kuching, the hosts piled on the pressure looking for the winner which never came.
A win for Johor FC would have given the club a fighting chance of advancing as their last match Group C match is against Sarawak at home tomorrow while Kelantan and Felda battle it out in Kota Baru to complete the preliminary round fixtures. In the first round Felda upset Kelantan 2-0.
"I did not want to take any chances with Khairul. I want him for the later stages of the competition. Now that we are through, I will not play him in our last match against Felda. I doubt if he will fully recover in time for the Felda match. I will not take the risk of fielding him," said Karathu.
"I knew Johor FC would come charging as they had a fighting chance of staying alive in the Malaysia Cup if they beat us. Johor FC showed quality teamwork and are a tough nut to crack.
"It was not an easy match for us. I am not happy with the team's overall performance. We conceded a first minute corner and paid the price, allowing Johor FC to strike when we had hardly settled down. Luckily we managed to get an early equaliser.
"Things can only get tougher from now and we have to be ready for that."
In the quarter-finals, Group C champions will play the runners-up of Group B, which means it will either be Terengganu or Negri Sembilan.
Kelantan, already with the Charity Shield and Super League title in the bag, are hot favourites to retain the Malaysia Cup which they won for the first time last year.