Terengganu - Kelantan Preview: Turtles with rare edge in East Coast derby

Terengganu had often come out second best in their encounters against Kelantan in recent years, but for once the odds are with the current league leaders

GOALBY    ZULHILMI ZAINAL     Follow on Twitter


Faiz- Bikana - Azlan - Zubir
Nordin - Ismail (c) - Zairo - Karlovic
Manaf -  Nor Farhan

Nik - Farisham - Obinna - Tuan
Wan - Badhri (c) - Shawky - Zairul
Ghaddar - Fakri

The East Coast derby between Terengganu and Kelantan will be renewed this Saturday, when the two sides meet in Kuala Terengganu in the MSL. The Turtles are at the top of the league with a game in hand, whereas the Red Warriors are in sixth, although there are only three points between them, due to the lack of consistency rampant among almost all teams in the league this season.
When looking at past statistics, one may be forgiven for thinking that the odds are currently with Kelantan. Last season alone, the two teams met six times, with Kelantan winning five of those encounters, and Terenggganu just one. 
The home side will be eager to bury their rivals in front of their own fans this Saturday, as three points will ensure their dominance in the league. They have collected 16 points, the same number of points accumulated by Pahang and Selangor in second and third respectively, and are only in first due to a superior goal count. Although they have a game in hand, this also goes for Selangor, and any slip ups will lose them their lead. And Turtles are prone to slipping up this season, as proven by their unlikely 3-2 away defeat to Sime Darby, just a week ago.
Another reason that Terengganu have the edge over their next door rivals is that the Red Warriors have been performing poorly in their last four matches, losing three and earning one point in one. Their morale are rock bottom at the moment, especially after losing 2-1 at home to domestic rivals JDT I last Tuesday. They are expected to cut loose several of their import players in the April transfer window, especially after signing a number of local stars.
In addition to this, there's also their almost spotless home record this season. In all five of their home games this season, Terengganu have won all, taking down the likes of Pahang and JDT I.
But despite the advantage possessed by the Turtles over their neighbours, this does not mean that the match will be a dull, one-sided affair. Last season's FA Cup encounter comes to mind, when after getting trounced 4-1 by Kelantan in the away tie, Terengganu clawed themselves back into the fray in the return fixture, by tying the scoreline 4-1 at the end of regulation time, before eventually conceding one goal in the ensuing extra time. Neutral fans will be hoping for a similar level of football in Kuala Terengganu come Saturday.