The team have been in free fall, in relegation zone and flirting with the drop, and they cut a pale resemblance to the unit that ended 2011 Malaysia Super League (MSL) in fourth spot. The poor form this season hardly suggests that Kedah are one of the powerhouses of Malaysian football.
In tonight’s MSL clash, the Hijau Kuning will face table toppers LionsXII at the Jalan Besar Stadium (JBS). The team from Alor Star spent an hour going through their final practice and head coach Wan Jamak Wan Hassan (picture right) identified the pitch as the biggest problem in tonight’s clash.
“I would like to thank Football Association of Singapore for allowing us an hour to train at the JBS. Hopefully the boys will get used to the pitch and settle down quickly during the game,” Wan Jamak told aXrosstheline.com
“The boys are professional players, and it is their job to adapt quickly to different playing conditions. Every team that comes here faces the same problem, so we have to be careful and be disciplined against the LionsXII,” Wan Jamak added.
Despite their lowly position in the MSL, Kedah have shown fine form over the last four games in all competitions, including two draws against 2011 MSL champions Kelantan (1-1 in Kota Bharu and 2-2 in Alor Star) in the Malaysia FA Cup. However, the two draws which would often be regarded as massive achievements by other sides against the champions, were not enough for a major upset as Kedah exited the competition on away goals.
“I hope the boys have gotten rid of their disappointment over the FA Cup result against Kelantan, and play a better game against the LionsXII, said Wan Jamak”
“If we come away with a win, it is bonus for us, but if it is a draw, that will be a fair game.”
The LionsXII will miss Irwan Shah through suspension but fans will see the return of right full back Madhu Mohana, and Singapore international goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud. The return of Izwan will be a happy headache for head Coach V Sundramoorthy as Hyrulnizam, who stood between the sticks in Izwan’s absence due to a knee injury, had performed admirably over the last two months.
The Singapore outfit will be gunning for a win against Kedah to pile the pressure on Kelantan, who are also in action tonight against PKNS FC.
Sundram isn’t worried about the back-to-back fixtures that the team will be going through in the next fortnight and he had indicated that this would be a good time for him to try out the younger boys in the team.
“As long as we get the three points in every game, I can’t complain,” Sundram said. “The younger boys are showing a lot of fire in them, we might throw one or two of them into the game and see how they fare against Kedah.”
“I hope that the boys can recover quickly after every game, and stay healthy throughout the rest of the season,” added the former Kedah player.
LionsXII and Kedah played out a 0-0 stalemate in Alor Star earlier this season. A player who will be looking to put one over the Lions is Baddrol Bakhtiar, who missed the first encounter due to injury.
“This game is important to us because we need to improve on our low league position, we’ll play to our best for a point, and if possible, all three,” said Baddrol.
“The mood in the team was a bit low after our failure to qualify for the FA Cup final but it has improved after we attended a motivation camp, and we’re raring to go.”
“There have been changes since the return of coach Wan Jamak from his eight-match ban and we’re hoping to improve game by game,” Baddrol added.
Fifteen per cent of the allocated match tickets are left for sale today from 5pm at the North Gate of Jalan Besar Stadium. Only Grandstand tickets are available.
LionsXII probable lineup (4-4-1-1):
Izwan Mahbud. Madhu Mohana, Baihakki Khaizan, Sevki Shaa’ban, Shaiful Esah, Juma’at Jantan, Isa Halim, Shahdan Sulaiman, Khairul Amri. Shahril Ishak (Captain), Khairul Nizam