KELANTAN have a tough choice as they prepare to face high riding Vissai Ninh Binh of Vietnam in a Group G match in the AFC Cup competition in Kota Baru on tomorrow.
With five players on the crock list the, coach Steve Darby, is at the crossroads – unable to decide on who he wants to play in the AFC Cup match and who he wants to play against Selangor in the Super League on Saturday.
On top of that, The Red Warriors will face Johor Darul Takzim in a mid-week league match in Kota Baru on March 25 followed by an away match against Terengganu on March 29 before completing their first round fixtures against Armed Forces at home on April 4.
Lebanese international Mohammad Ghaddar (groin), national striker Fakri Saarani (knee), Francis Forkey Doe and Mohammed Shawky (hamstring) and Zairul Fitree Ishak (ankle) are all on the injured list.
“They all carry injuries that can be cured by rest. It is something we can ill afford to do when you have such a tight schedule.
“Physically it is impossible to play them (against Ninh Binh) on Tuesday after a tough match (on Saturday). If I play them against Ninh Binh then I will have to probably forget them for the Selangor match or vice-versa.
“We started well against Pahang but you could see that the players were fatigued in the last 20 minutes of the match. We were practically dead,” Darby told Sports247.my.
“Our first goal against Pahang was rather lucky. But we showed tremendous fighting spirit to snatch the equaliser. It must be noted that the crowd was solidly behind us and this is positive.
Kelantan scored in the first minute through skipper Mohd Badhri Radzi only to see Pahang move 2-1 ahead with goals by Saifulnizam Miswan (13th) and Faizol Hussein (70th). However, substitute Khairul Izwan made sure the spoils were shared with the equaliser in the 80th minute.
In the AFC Cup, Kelantan revived their hopes with a 2-0 win over South China of Hong Kong in Kota Baru last week after losing their first match to Yangon United 5-3 in Yangon. Despite the win over South China, Kelantan are third in the group on goal difference (5-5) against Yangon United’s 7-6 tally. Both have three points each.
Vissai Ninh Binh lead the group with six points after winning both their matches – against South China (3-1) and Yangon (3-2).