Friday, 13 January 2012

Kelantan coach hopes fans will back team

One setback in the Charity Shield was all it took for the knives to be out against Peter Butler though the 2-1 win over LionsXII in Singapore on Tuesday has gone someway to get the hounds off the Kelantan coach's back.  

Howls of derision accompanied Kelantan's 2-1 Charity Shield loss to Negri Sembilan when the Super League champions were hammered for their lack of defensive stability as they succumbed to the power of Negri's Cameroonian Jean-Emmanuel Owona.

Butler faced intense criticism from supporters and the  media for Kelantan's capitulation but after their inspiring come-from-behind win against LionsXII, the Englishman hopes to get back on-side with the team's loyal following when PKNS visit Kota Baru today.

Having seen it all during his first stint with Kelantan in 2009, Butler is not surprised with the noises coming his way though he thought the stinging criticism was a little premature.

"Everyone's entitled to their opinion but it was the first game of the season. We went to Surabaya (for a friendly match) in difficult circumstances and, okay, things didn't go our way in pre-season.

"After the Charity Shield game, I don't think a lot of people knew what they were saying. We made a couple of mistakes, but it's pre-season, even Chelsea and Manchester United lose Charity Shield games.

"I don't like some of the negative statements that came out after just one game. We've played some excellent football and there were plenty of praises from people in Indonesia.

"But the negative comments on our doorstep are unfair to the players. Some people have got to take a rain-check and think about what they're saying," said Butler, who lost centre-back Azizi Matt Rose to a long-term injury against Negri, when contacted by Timesport yesterday.

The former West Ham player expressed his displeasure with the critics during the post-match press conference in Singapore but performances on the pitch is  the only thing that should matter.

Butler left out Dennis Antwi against LionsXII as he paired Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Mohammed Ghaddar up front and he was pleased that both were on the score-sheet, more so with Lebanese Ghaddar, who has struggled to fit in, given his lack of command of English.

"He found it a little bit difficult at first but he's improving. He's played at the top level and he's new in town and in a different environment. But he wants to do well and he's got a good heart. I'm backing him 100 per cent," said Butler.

Apart from Azizi, Butler will have  all players available against PKNS, who made a losing debut in the Super League with  a 2-1 home reverse against Johor FC.

Butler may mix things up for Kelantan's first home game of the season with Indra Putra Mahayuddin likely to be rested after picking up a knock in Singapore.

PKNS have been hamstrung by their inability to register foreign players and coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim lamented the lack of striking power in his side.

"The imports we wanted are strikers but now we don't have many options in that area," said Abdul Rahman after Tuesday's match at the Petaling Jaya Stadium.

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