BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Lebanese striker Mohammed Ghaddar's third stint with Kelantan has been a spectacular one, with the 33-year old forward showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Ghaddar has bagged a staggering 18 Super League (MSL) goals after only 12 rounds were played, and is well on his way to receive this season's Golden Boot award and become the Super League top-scorer with the most goals in one season in the league's history.
By comparison, the current second highest top-scorer this season; Pahang's Matheus Alves has bagged only 12 goals, while last season's MSL top-scorer; Jorge Pereyra Diaz only reached 18 goals after all 22 MSL rounds were played. So far this season, Ghaddar has even scored more than Pulau Pinang (8), Sarawak (12), Melaka United (13), Felda United (13) and Selangor (17), while his tally is equal to Perak's current goal count.
His goals have also helped the Red Warriors collect 19 points this season (not excluding the six-point deduction handed by Football Malaysia LLP late last month). After 12 rounds of MSL were played, Kelantan are currently seventh with 13 points.
However, apart from Ghaddar's 18 goals, the Red Warriors have only scored six goals, which highlights their dependence, perhaps even over-dependence, on him.
This begs the question; what would the results of Kelantan's league matches be without his goals, and where would the Red Warriors currently be in the MSL without them?
Unsurprisingly, out of Kelantan's six wins in the league this season, Ghaddar has scored in all of them; 15 goals specifically.
He scored a brace in their 3-1 away win to PKNS FC, one goal in their 2-1 win to Felda United, a hat-trick in their 4-2 away win over Perak, another hat-trick 4-2 against T-Team, a staggering four goals in their 5-1 win over Pulau Pinang, and another brace when they defeated Pahang 3-2 in Kuantan.
Out of Kelantan's five league defeats, Ghaddar has scored three goals in two of these matches; a goal in their 2-1 defeat to Pahang in Kota Bharu, and a brace against JDT, a home match they eventually lost 3-2.
The Red Warriors have only drawn once in the league so far; an away match against Sarawak which ended goalless.
When Ghaddar's goals were excluded from the final scores, the results would look like this:
PKNS 1-1 Kelantan (1 point)
Felda United 1-1 Kelantan (1)
Kelantan 0-1 Kedah (0) *unchanged
Kelantan 0-2 Melaka United (0) *unchanged
Kelantan 0-2 Selangor (0) *unchanged
Perak 2-1 Kelantan (0)
Kelantan 1-2 T-Team (0)
Kelantan 0-2 Pahang (0) *unchanged
Kelantan 0-3 JDT (0) *unchanged
Pulau Pinang 1-1 Kelantan (1)
Sarawak 0-0 Kelantan (1) *unchanged
Pahang 2-1 Kelantan (0)
It is evident how integral Ghaddar (and his goals) is to Kelantan. Out of the 12 matches, six were affected. If his goals were not counted, six of their wins would turn into three draws and three defeats.
Kelantan would have collected only four points so far, and with the points deduction, they would be on -2, staring at relegation at the bottom of the league.
JDT's mid-season offer to sign the Lebanese may sound tempting to the cash-strapped Red Warriors, but is it worth losing their talismanic goal-getter, especially when they may also be handed a player signing ban in the coming transfer window, if they fail to solve their wage issue?
Evidently, Kelantan need to retain Ghaddar, and it most certainly will take more than just a new pair of boots from their sponsor.