* Kelantan’s AFC Cup virtually over after 3-2 defeat to Ninh Binh
* KAFA fine Shakir Alifor his third red card in three matches
IT was a night of shame for Shakir Ali – as he picked up his third red card in as many matches – as nine-man Kelantan were beaten 3-2 by Vietnam’s Vissai Ninh Binh in a AFC Cup Group G match at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru tonight.
And Kelantan acted fast to mete out punishment to the former Harimau Muda striker and was handed a hefty fine for his lack of discipline on the field. However, coach Steve Darby did not disclose the amount.
“This is his third red card in as many matches and we cannot allow this to go on. He will be punished and will be fined for that. He is paid to play and win matches … not getting red cards,” said Darby.
Shakir, who also played for Kedah and Negri Sembilan, got red carded in Kelantan’s 5-3 defeat to Myanmar’s Yangon United in Yangon in the first match.
He returned to play against Lions XII in a Super League match at the Jalan Besar Stadium, but also got red carded in Kelantan’s come-from behind 2-1 win.
He was given the marching orders by Bangladesh referee Tayeb Hassan in the 33rd minute for retaliation after a collision with Ninh Binh skipper Lu Van Duyet.
Despite the handicap, Kelantan, playing without several first team players, wiped out Ninh Binh’s 22nd minute lead through their Jamaican striker Kavin Bryan who drilled home a first timer from a pinpoint cross from the left by Le Van Thang.
Kelantan then earned a freekick and Nazri Ahmad executed a curling left footed shot over the five-man wall with the ball hitting the inside of the left upright before going in.
There was more to come from Kelantan. The numerical disadvantage had little effect on the Red Warriors and Ninh Binh were stunned again in injury time before the halftime break – this time Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria set up Khairul Izuan to put the finishing touches.
But disaster struck the hosts just after the restart when Khairul Izuan whent from hero to villain. Tayeb did not hesitate to flash a direct red card on the Kelantan forward for kicking Sim Woon Sum after he lost the ball during a tussle.
Reduced to nine players and Ninh Binh showing attacking flair did not wait long to get back into the picture to make it 2-2 on 50 minutes when Partiyo Tambewe’s free header found the net.
Darby brought in Mohd Badhri Radzi and Mohammed Shawk for Faizol Nazrin and Wan Zaharulnizam respectively, in the 59th minute.
The duo could not prevent the Vietnamese side from collecting their third win out of three with Romanian striker Petrisor Voinea hitting target in the 62nd minute.
“With a long injury list it was already tough playing against Ninh Binh with a full team. It was still okay when we were a player short. But all that disappeared when we were reduced to nine players. It sapped the energy.
“It was fourth match in about 10 days and it is taking its toll. The red cards have made things worse for us in our AFC Cup campaign. But that takes a back seat as we prepare for the Selangor match in the league,” lamented Darby.
In another Group A match, Yangon United beat South China 2-0.