For the first time since 2016, Kedah will not be involved in the Charity Cup as they have been in the past two seasons as direct competition to Johor Darul Ta'zim FC. After several seasons of being touted as the potential challenger to JDT's throne, The Red Eagles has taken a lower profile heading into the 2019 season.
With the wrangle over Akhyar Rashid has not coming to a definite end just yet, work on the training pitch continues for the new man at the helm, Aidil Shahrin Sahak. The 41-year-old took over the head coaching role from Nidzam Adzha following massive success at his previous club, Home United FC.
His new side met his old side last night with Kedah romping to a 4-0 win over Home in Alor Setar but Aidil stressed that his team is still some distance away from where he's targeting them to be. Expressing his preferred style of play, Aidil will be spending the final week of preparation finetuning his charges before the first league match against PKNP FC next weekend.
"I demand consistency. Always 90 minutes same tempo like what teams like JDT and Pahang can do. Honestly we are only 80-85% there. We haven't reached the maximum of what I want. There's still room for improvement. I demand high fitness level from the players. I demand 90 minutes of pressing and 90 minutes of hard work. Then only we will be attractive to the fans that come to the stadium."
"We need to be ruthless in every game, doesn't matter low team or high team. I'm only here for less than two months and there's still plenty for me to do. The players will need time to understand the system that I want to implement. We'll keep pushing the players to improve on the performance and fitness," said Aidil after the final friendly match for Kedah this pre-season.
This season will also see Kedah have a completely new set of import players, something that has not happened since 2016 when they retained Liridon Krasniqi from the year before. Jonatan Bauman, Shakir Hamzah, Anmar Almubaraki, Fernando Rodriguez and Renan Alves have all been roped in for the new season.
Last season still saw remnants of the work that previous coach Tan Cheng Hoe did with Liridon continuing to be the hub of the team's short passing and incisive moves. Aidil will have his own strategy and plan which the players will need to take on or risk seeing their place in the team taken away.
After Fandi Ahmad and V. Sundramoorthy in recent years, Aidil is the latest Singaporean given a head coaching job in Malaysia and he will be hoping to fare better than his predecessors.
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