Kelantan 0-2 Kitchee SC: Hong Kong Barca dominate in Kota Bharu

Kelantan were outplayed in Kota Bharu as Kitchee knocked two past the Red Warriors in the first half and parked the bus in the second to progress to the quarter-finals
Kelantan came into the game looking forward to a tough challenge and they got exactly that. An own goal by Lek Kcrira and a Jorge Parramo strike in the last minute of the first half was enough to send the Red Warriors crashing out of the AFC Cup.

The match came to life as soon as the opening whistle was blown by the referee, and surprisingly it was the visitors who almost found the first goal in the early stages.

After an exchange of passes in the Kelantan penalty box, Kitchee captain Chu Siu Kei received a brilliant lay-off. His shot was threatening, but Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi responded with an equally brilliant reflex save to tip the ball just over the bar to deny the visitors an immediate goal.

Stunned by the close call, the Red Warriors responded by attacking more aggressively. They almost found the opening goal when Dimitros Petratos received a pass just outside of the visitors' penalty box in the 9th minute, but he decided to cut in to elude two Kitchee defenders first, and the chance dissipated.

In the end, it took an own goal for the scoring to be opened and it came in the 16th minute. A through pass down the right flank released Zeeshan Rehman, who then sent in a cross to competition top-scorer Parramo, who was waiting in the penalty box. Kelantan centreback Kcira did well to shadow Parramo, but his attempt to block the cross was done from an awkward position, and his touch only ended up deceiving Fahmi and putting the ball in his own net instead.

Despite playing in front of their own fans, Kelantan struggled to respond to the goal, hampered by Kitchee's slowing down of the tempo, and surprisingly, by their own failure to create significant chances. Many of their chances went astray, and they looked to be out of ideas, unlike the team who set Malaysian football alight week in and out with their inventiveness and skills.

Petratos continued his inability to score despite having much of the ball, while Badhri Radzi's magic seemed to have eluded him as the team played with no cohesion at all. Their centreback Obinna Nwaneri's most significant contribution in the match was when he gestured towards the home fans to cheer the team on again after the usually boisterous crowd fell silent.

The home fans could be forgiven for thinking that the first half would end with a scoreline of 1-0, as Kitchee seemed to have taken their foot off the pedal, and coach Bojan Hodak would use the break to motivate his boys for the second half, but the visitors had a different idea altogether.

With what was practically the last kick of the first half and almost out of nothing, Cheung Kin Fung sent a curling low cross into the box, which Parramo did well to charge at and stab home to double their lead. The dazed look on Fahmi's face as he was walking into the dressing room moments later illustrated his team's failure to truly comprehend their misery.

Kelantan began their effort to recover in the second half by bringing in Dickson Nwakaeme for the ineffective Faiz Subri, and as expected they piled on the pressure. However, they could not make any headways as Kitchee defended well and responded with clockwork counter-attacks.

One such counter-attack almost caught Kelantan by surprise again in the 58th minute when Fahmi failed to handle a dipping cross from the left. Luckily for him and Kelantan, Zairul Fitree was there to clear the ball off the line.

In the 63rd minute, Kelantan seemed to have suceeded in reducing the deficit when Nor Farhan nodded in a short cross by Nwakaeme. But Norfarhan had already been adjudged to be in an offside position by the linesman.

Kelantan missed another chance to claw their way out of defeat in the 70th minute. A freekick from the left of the visitor's box agonisingly hit the far post, but when Nwakaeme tried to pounce on the rebound, he was rightfully flagged offside.

Parramo almost doubled his tally for the match the 81st minute when he was released by a through pass. His scuffed shot beat Fahmi, but rolled to the wrong side of the far post.

Just a minute later, Nwakaeme, who had only been brought in at the beginning of the second half, was inexplicably taken out by Hodak, an example of how miserably Kelantan had been performing in the match.

The comeback ultimately failed to materialise, and Kelantan crashed out of the 2013 AFC Cup with a 2-0 loss to Kitchee SC.