Kedah coach Nidzam Adzha Yusoff remained upbeat in spite of the daunting task they will face in the second half of the Super League season which begins on 1 July.
According to Nidzam, midfielder Baddrol Bakhtiar and defender Rizal Ghazali had returned to Kedah with injuries following their recent international assignment with the national squad.
“Baddrol has a knee injury while Rizal is down with an ankle problem. But fortunately we have other players like Ariff Farhan and Syazwan Tajuddin, who have just recovered.
“We do have ready replacements for Baddrol with Ahmad Fakri Saarani available so there’s not much of a problem. It’s just unfortunate to have our mainstays returning with injuries,” said Nidzam.
The Red Eagles have retained all their foreign legions – Kosovan playmaker Liridon Krasniqi, Danish striker Ken Ilso, Brazilian midfielder Sandro da Silva, and Australian defender Zac Anderson.
Anderson, however, will still be a doubtful starter as he has yet to recover from his injury.
“Nearly a quarter of my first team is unavailable. Hopefully they will be able to recover in time in July as we have only nine games remaining to the season.
“During the Ramadhan break, we had little to prepare as five seniors and four juniors – the Under-23 players – had been away for international duty.
Baddrol, Rizal, Syazwan Zainon, Khairul Helmi Johari and Muhd Akram Mahinan were assigned by national head coach Nelo Vingada for training on 29 May in preparations for their 2019 Asian Cup Group B qualifying campaign.
While Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Syafiq Ahmad, Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim and Ariff Farhan received call-ups from national Under-22 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee in preparations for their 2018 AFC U-23 Championship Group H qualification round in China.
“And on top of that, we have Zac and Mohd Farhan Roslan injured as well. So it’s a total of 11 players absent from the team,” lamented Nidzam.
Coach Nidzam, who was officially appointed as head coach last month by the Kedah Football Association – until the end of the season, had guided the Red Eagles to victory in the FA Cup final against Pahang (3-2) at the Shah Alam Stadium on 20 May.
“For the moment, the players understand what we have to go through this July and we have our physical trainers to prepare them physically fit. Apart from that, we will include two or three players from the President Cup side to join us.” – BY ALVIN OH