DEFENDING champions Kelantan go into the second-leg FA Cup quarterfinal match against PKNS FC at Selayang with a one-goal cushion after the 3-2 win in Kota Baru last week, and last night’s 3-0 win over bottom placed T-Team would not have come at a better time for coach Steve Darby and his Red Warriors.
The Englishman warned his team and the fans not to “over celebrate” the win over the Titans who are languishing at the bottom of the table.
Kelantan kept a clean sheet for the first time at home this season in all competitions and got their goals through Egyptian stalwart Mohamed Shawky, skipper Badhri Radzi and Mohamad Ghaddar.
Darby attributed Kelantan’s win to the “unseen stars” who played a big role in the victory over T-Team and singled out Farisham Ismail, Tengku Hasbullah Raja Hassan, Fakri Shaarani and Wan Zahrulnizam Wan Zakaria for their inspiring performance.
When asked about Kelantan’s present 4-4-2 after his 3-5-2 came in for criticism, the Englishman told Sports247.my: “The system is just the vehicle to get the ball from one end to another. If your goalkeeper plays well and the strikers take their chances, you will win.
“We should not over celebrate. There are still weaknesses that needs to be ironed out. We still have to work hard. The big win over T-Team will stand in good stead for our FA Cup match.”
Darby also praised goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat for his “international class” performance last night after the national keeper’s blunders paved Perak to a 2-1 win over the Red Warriors last week.
“We need to win or draw to advance, and I am optimistic that we will prevail in the FA Cup second-leg. PKNS have two away goals, but we are not going to let that stand in the way to go for a win in Selayang.”
“The key to a team’s performance is management of fatigue. We are trying to introduce young players to check the fatigue of others. The tight schedule is taking its toll and we have to manage that,” added Darby.