Before the LionsXII take on defending champions, Kelantan, Goal.com filters out three key battles that will take place on Saturday night at Jalan Besar
By Eddie Ridzwan
|SAFUWAN BAHARUDIN||vs||KEITA MANDJOU|
This is going to be an enticing battle between Singaporean Safuwan Bahrudin and Guinean Keita Mandjou.
The Singaporean defender is ever-reliable at the back with his astute ability to anticipate and intercept passes. He is also not afraid to go into a tackle against bigger oppositions as he showed against Dani Guiza of JDT.
Kelantan's forgotten man, Keita Mandjou has put his early season form behind him and grabbed three goals in two matches to remind his employers that he is still an extremely capable forward. The powerful Guinean is always in the thick of the action for his team and seems to be growing in confidence especially with his equaliser against Perak last week, to rescue his side a point.
This will be another good test for Safuwan who has aimed to attract the attention of A-League and Thai Premier league suitors.
At the risk of sounding cliched, this match will be determined by the performance of both sides' midfield.
Singapore's wonderboy, Hariss Harun will look to continue his red-hot form after returning against Johor Darul Takzim. He has wasted no time settling back into the fray as he marked his return with a goal.
Hariss will have to rely on his ball-winning capabilities to starve Badhri Radzi of the ball and look to push forward in supporting the frontline as he always does.
The influential 30-year-old is a technically gifted playmaker, highly rated for his ability to pick out a killer pass. He was the driving force of Kelantan's treble-winning season in 2012, and as captain will continue to lead the team by example.
The Malaysian should be one to watch, boosted from the news that he has earned his first official call-up for Datuk Rajagobal's squad for the Asian Cup Qualifiers.
This is one battle that could decide where the game swings.
| FAZRUL NAWAZ
One of the few over-aged players, Fazrul Nawaz' pace and direct running will prove to be a constant threat to the Red Warrior's defence. Fazrul has 2 goals to his name in the league so far and would be determined to increase his tally.
However, even if Fazrul gets past the defence, he will be faced with Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, whose abilities belie his dimunitive figure.
The Malaysian custodian has long been Kelantan's favorite son. A treble winner of the FAM Best Goalkeeper Award, his cat-like reflexes will once again prove to be the difference between winning and losing for Kelantan.