Marko Kraljevic needs no introduction to football in Malaysia, having played for Kelantan in the Malaysian League from 1991 to 1994 – as a hit-man in his attacking midfielder role and became a household name.
Today the 53-year-old German-born Croatian is back in the East Coast state after a 25-year absence – this time as the head coach of the Red Warriors – taking over the hot seat vacated by Yusri Che Lah.
Yusri turned his back on the Red Warriors at the last minute and is now the coach of Kuala Lumpur.
Kraljevic is ready to take up the challenge to take bring back the glorious days of Kelantan’s own brand of attacking football that made Red Warriors a much feared team in the Malaysian League.
Teams feared playing at Kelantan’s home venue – the famed Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Bahru – that used to draw their fanatical football crowds.
Kraljevic has taken it upon himself to add new shine to Kelantan football and take the team back to the elite Super League although he acknowledges he has a mountain to scale.
“Kelantan should be plying their football trade in the (elite) Super League. It should not be playing in the Premier League,” said Kraljevic when he was introduced during Kelantan’s jersey launch in Kota Bahru on Sunday night.
“It will be tough but with hard work and commitment we can achieve the desired results. It is a tough journey actually.”
Kraljevic has vast experience not only as player after playing in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore but he also has managerial experience having managed the Under-22 teams of Balestier Khalsa (2008-2011) and Woodlands Wellington (2012-2013) apart from managing Balestier Khalsa in 2014.
It is interesting to note that Kraljevic was named S-League Coach of the Year in 2014 – the same year Balestier Khalsa won the Singapore Cup. RIZAL ABDULLAH