Goal.com's 2013 MSL Team Preview: Kelantan

Goal.com Malaysia takes an exclusive look at the big teams that will be competing for the upcoming season's Malaysian Super League title
By Prem Kumar

2012 was the best year in Kelantan’s history as they bulldozed their way past everyone to three domestic titles by playing a brand of football that was pleasant on the eyes.

Shahrizan Ismail, Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Norhadi Ubaidillah


Azizi Matt Rose, K. Nanthakumar, Obinna Nwaneri, Nik Shahrul Azim, Farisham Ismail, Abdul Aziz Ismail, Zamri Ramli, Daudsu Jamaluddin, Rizal Fahmi, Zairul Fitree Ishak, Tuan Muhamad Faim


Zairo Anuar Zalani, Shakir Shaari, Izuan Salahuddin, Faiz Subri, Badhri Radzi, Khairul Izuan Rosli, Indra Putra Mahayuddin


Norfarhan Muhammad, Keita Mandjou, Aris Zaidi, Haris Safwan Kamal

Bojan Hodak’s men team lit up Malaysian soccer with their short-passing game last year and reaped their due rewards when they won the Malaysian FA Cup, Malaysian Super League (MSL) and the Malaysia Cup, and incredibly lost only three games domestically all season long. They also finished the season unbeaten at home - in 33 matches in all competitions, including the AFC Cup.

The Red Warriors will start this season as one of the favourites for the title on the basis of their recent success, although they have let some key players leave the team since the last season came to an end.

They can no longer call upon the services of Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Lebanese forward Muhammad Ghaddar - their first-choice strike partnership last season, after both opted to play for other teams this year. The former joined the revolution down south at Johor Darul Takzim FC while the latter is now a Felda United FC player. Nurul Azwan Roya, another important cog of the successful Kelantan team, also left the side soon after their Malaysia Cup triumph.

The east coast outfit however, cannot be taken lightly because, apart from signing on other players to replace those who have departed, they also have the experience of winning, having dominated the local scene for the last three years. They can also count upon the backing of a very professionally run football governing body in KAFA (Kelantan Football Association), as well as the coaching expertise of head trainer Hodak. The success in keeping captain Badhri Radzi in Kota Bharu despite interests from the likes of Selangor and Terengganu could still prove to be their best bit of business in the close season.

During the transfer window, Kelantan secured the signatures of no less than four proven names in Malaysian football to compensate for the loss of last season’s top performers. Players like Zairo Anuar Zalani (signed from T-Team) and K.Nanthakumar (Perak) are former national footballers and have years of experience behind them to call upon in times of need. Other new players like Faiz Subri, Haris Safwan Kamal and Guinean Keita Mandjou are established professionals in their own right as well.

Despite the improvements done by other teams for the new season, Kelantan remain the team to beat and it will be interesting for observers to see if the pretenders can knock the current kingpins of Malaysian football off their perch in 2013.

Kelantan FA | Fact File

Super League Winners
FA Cup Winners
Malaysia Cup Winners
Home Stadium Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium
Team Colours Red (H), White (A)
2013 Verdict Title Contenders

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