Monday, 2 January 2012

Kelantan looking to win all trophies next season

Kelantan  are out to make history in the new M-League season.

Kelantan FA (KFA) president Tan Sri Annuar Musa wants his star-studded side not only to capture all the titles at stake in Malaysian football (Charity Shield, Super League, FA Cup, and Malaysia Cup) but also win the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)  Cup, where they will be making their debut in March.

"We have been one of the better local teams over the past few seasons. It is only natural that we aim higher this season," said Annuar after the unveiling of the new Kelantan jersey in Kota Baru on Saturday.

Kelantan, led by their captain Mohd Badri Radzi, have strengthened their squad by signing former international, Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Azizi Matt Rose and Norfarhan Mohd, who all  played for the east coast side two season ago, along with four foreign signings - Lebanese internationals Mohammed Ghaddar, Zakaria Charara and Ghana's Denny Antwi and Emmanuel Okine.

Local teams are  allowed to register only two foreign players for the M-League but Kelantan signed four instead for their AFC Cup challenge.

"Peter Butler (coach) has been informed that Kelantan must achieve their best season ever this year. We want to be better than last season, where we came close to winning all four titles in the league," said Annuar.

Kelantan won two titles (Charity Shield and Super League) and were runners-up in the FA Cup last season but their campaign in the Malaysia Cup came to a close in the quarter-final stage.

"The AFC Cup is a new competition for Kelantan but despite the inexperience, we expect our team to make an immediate impact. We have signed four import players just to be competitive in this tournament," said Annuar.

The east coast side open their campaign against last season's Malaysia Cup champions Negri Sembilan in the Charity Shield on Jan 7  at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru.

A victory over Negri will put them in good stead for their opening Super League match against Singapore's LionsXII at the Jalan Besar Stadium, three days later.

But Negri coach Azraai Khor wants to spoil the party in Kota Baru.

"Like Kelantan, we also want to start the season with a trophy. We had minor hiccups along the way after several regulars left for other teams. Besides that, we will have only one import player this season.

"Anyway, I have enough depth in my squad. My players are willing to fight on and earn titles for Negri. Kelantan are a good side and playing them in Kota Baru is not easy but we will be prepared for them," said Azraai.

Negri have beefed up their squad with 10 new signings including Cameroon striker Jean-Emmanuel Effa Owona and Shakir Ali from Kedah.

The team were up in arms with the FA of Malaysia (FAM) for not clearing their Brazil import Marquen Nuquen Gocalves Ferreira for the M-League but have since accepted the national body's decision.

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