When the list of players were announced by Kedah's head of unit Anas Hafiz Mustaffa on Wednesday evening, the two that immediately jumps out are the signing of former PKNS FC striker Kpah Sherman and former Terengganu FC striker Tchetche Kipre. While both are subjected to completion or medical and signing on the dotted line, it represented the renewed hope The Red Eagles have on the 2020 season.
Sparked by the relative success in the 2019 season where they won the FA Cup and reach the Malaysia Cup final, Kedah are pulling out all the stops to ensure that their progress under Singaporean Aidil Sharin will be continued into the new season by shifting 40% of their players out of the new squad.
Gone were the likes of Jonatan Bauman, Fernando Rodriguez, Edgar Bernhardt, Syahrul Azawari, Asri Mardzuki, Syawal Nordin and Syazwan Tajudin. They have brought in a whole host of experienced players to beef up the squad like Sharil Saari, Irfan Zakaria, Hadin Azman, Jafri Chew, Tam Sheang Tsung and Zulhairi Zulkepli on top of those two import signings.
13 players in Baddrol Bakhtiar, Rizal Ghazali, David Rowley, Ifwat Akmal, Khairul Helmi, Zaquan Adha, Alif Yusof, Amirul Hisyam, Azmeer Yusof, Farhan Roslan, Azamuddin Akil, Renan Alves and Shakir Hamzah were all offered contract extensions to add to the six players that were still under contracts.
That means Aidil still have another two more slots to fill which is the third goalkeeper as well as the Asian import quota. Aidil is thought to be considering the possibility of filling that latter slot with a player from either Tajikistan, Japan or Australia.
In the big reveal done yesterday, Anas also promised the fans that Kedah will be taking the ACL qualification very seriously and does not aim to stop at the qualifying round. Hong Kong's Tai Po are their first opponent at Darul Aman Stadium before a trip to one of the continent's powerhouse.
But the swell of positive momentum gained from the squad reveal will put Aidil's team in good stead when they begin training in earnest. What the new make-up of the squad will go to show is the added strength in depth to ensure that their will not be over-reliant on any particular player as they look to put up a strong challenge to Johor Darul Ta'zim for the 2020 Malaysia Super League title.
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