Kelantan 1-1 Arbil SC (Agg 2-6): Red Warriors put up a brave fight

The Red Warriors failed to overturn the deficit against the Iraqi champions but their unbeaten home record remains intact
Kelantan got their first chance through Indraputra’s freekick in the early minutes, however the shot was well blocked by the Arbil defender. The visiting side also had a chance to break the deadlock on 14 minutes when Sula demonstrated an excellent touch in the area and bore down on goal, however Kelantan were rescued by centre-back Obinna who threw himself in the way of the effort. Moments after this Azmi Afiq got on the end of a Kelatan corner but he was only able to poke his effort wide.

Kelantan were creating the more chances of the teams and they should have been ahead in the 23rd minute after Norfarhan’s quick feet and dribbling skills gave Afiq Azmi the chance to score, however the shot was fired directly at Arbil keeper Jalal Hassan and Kelantan were unable to scramble home the rebound. Norfarhan was clearly in the mood to get his name on the scoresheet and four minutes later he hit a rasping effort from the edge of the area which shook the woodwork.

Despite Kelantan dominating most of the possesion and carving out several chances, it was Arbil who took the lead in the 37th minute.  Arbil defender Ivan, the standout player of the game won possession in his own half before firing a fantastic ball over the top of the Kelantan defence.  The Kelantan full-back Mafry was caught the wrong side of the Arbil forward Sula who was able to tuck the ball past the helpless Fahmi.

Towards the end of the first half and at the beginning of the second half the Iraqi team began to boss possession as Kelantan seemingly began to realise the impossible task they now faced.  In the 50th minute Sula burst into the box and almost capitalised on some lax defending by the home side, however Khairul Fahmi was able to successfully push the ball away to safety.

In the 61st minute Bojan introduced Mohd Ghaddar in place of the loan signing from Kuala Lumpur, Afiq Azmi, who had a poor night in front of goal.  Now confident of his sides passage through to the next round of the competition, Arbil’s coach subtituted several of his key players including Amjad Radhi who was replaced by Mustafa Abdulameer.

Great play by Halkard Mulla Mohammad and Mustafa almost allowed Arbil to double their lead but the chance was again finely saved by Khairul Fahmi. Just two minutes later, a free kick conceeded by Arbil defence almost gave Kelantan equiliser, Indra Putra squared the ball to Ghaddar who fired a low shot which Jalal Hassan was equal to.  Moments later another Kelantan free-kick was blocked by the wall and Mafry struck the rebound just over the bar from 30+ yards out.

Just as the match looked to be overa penalty was awarded to Kelantan following Ahmed's clumsy tackle on Ghaddar.  It was Ghaddar who dusted himself off and took the penalty and he calmly slotted it home past the despairing keeper.

The Red Warriors first journey in the AFC Cup 2012 ends after a 6-2 aggregate loss to Arbil SC. The glimmer of light is that the team managed to remain undefeated in Kota Bharu this year.  Following the loss Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak said that the "performance was much better than in Iraq.  (I) Think that we are the better team and created more chances but finishing let us down, that is down to (lack of) quality.  We have eight, ten shots on goal, four good chances but only scored one goal, this is (lack of) quality."