It has been a tough start to the season for Sarawak, but they will look for home comforts, and revenge, in facing Kelantan in their second Malaysia Super League fixture of 2014
Hairol - Gyepes – Ronny - L. Ramesh
Joseph - Lot -Chuchu
Slibasic - Janjus
While Kelantan are no strangers to strong home records, even they have to respect the form of Sarawak on their home turf in 2013. In league competition they won 10 matches and drew once, and they followed this up with four victories at home in the Malaysia Cup. Considering this, it is not surprising that anticipation is high ahead of their first MSL home fixture of 2014, especially as they are welcoming recent rivals Kelantan.
Despite being new to the top flight, expectations are high in East Malaysia, with Sarawak FA President Datu Sudarsono Osman talking his team up for a title challenge before the season began, telling the Borneo Post that “each team will have an equal chance of winning the title.”
However the Crocs have not had the greatest start to the season, limply going down 2-0 at Armed Forces last weekend, before struggling for 120 minutes to beat 10-man Penang in the FA Cup. Two positives for Dutch coach Robert Alberts are that prolific Bosnian striker Muamer Salibasic is likely to be fit after missing the FA Cup tie, while combative midfielder Junior Eldstal continued his way back to fitness in the midweek victory. Whether he will start here, after completing 120 minutes on his return from surgery, remains to be seen.As for Kelantan, they had the benefit of a first round bye in the Malaysian FA Cup, meaning they should come into the game the fresher of the two teams. Despite it only being their second game of the season both Mohamed Shawky and Amar Rohidan are unlikely to feature due to injuries picked up last weekend. Head coach Steve Darby told the New Straits Times "Shawky got his foot stuck in a lump of grass and hurt his hamstring. Amar is also out with an ankle injury after falling over.” Nazri Ahmed and Mohammad Ghaddar are the likeliest men to deputise for the Red Warriors.
Despite Kelantan not having lost to Sarawak in their last eight meetings, and being the only team to beat them on their home turf in 2013, the visitors are cautious heading into the Sarawak State Stadium. Kelantan team manager Azman Ibrahim has done his homework on Sarawak’s impressive home record, telling the The Star Online “Even as a Premier League side, they defeated three Super League teams (Lions XII 2-1, Kedah 4-1 and Perak 6-1) en route to reaching the Malaysia Cup semi-finals.” While winger Wan Zakaria is also impressed telling the official Kelantan website "Sarawak is a strong team. I know the meetings of the two teams is expected (to be) intense. But we do not want to fly to Kuching just to lose, and I am optimistic to bring home a point to Kota Bharu."