The 2018 Super League season reached its halfway point for Kelantan on Tuesday and the signs are ominously veering towards a slide down to the Premier League.
A 5-1 thrashing at the hands of fellow strugglers Kuala Lumpur painted a clear picture that all is not well with the two-time Super League champions.
Fajer Ibrahim has dominated the headlines in recent weeks over his handling of the squad and the latest result will mean that he will continue to be in the limelight for the wrong reasons.
The Syrian did not make it for the post-match press conference after the defeat to KL and sent his assistant instead. Yusri Che Lah put on a brave front and vehemently backed his beleaguered head coach.
“This is the best approach in football. I’m not lying, I’m just being honest. What coach Fajer is doing is something that is good for football in the country, not only in Kelantan. This is what modern football is."
“But we need to remember that Malaysian players are too pampered. That is why it is hard when a coach is strict and has strong characters to make changes, people find it hard to accept. It’s not only in Kelantan but also throughout Malaysia. He’s one of the best people I’ve ever worked with.
“We have to accept that many don’t agree with the decisions that were made. But in order to achieve success, we have to fight against the flow of the current. We are lacking in experience, for sure but hopefully in the coming weeks if we are allowed to add more import, we can be more competitive," said Yusri.
To be fair, Kelantan did improve in the second half after a woeful start to the match in the first period but were let down by the lack of presence in the striking department despite an increased ball possession time in the second period.
The team lacked guidance and figure head on the pitch to rouse the players. The presence of new centre back in Alaeddine Bouslimi also did little to provide added assurance at the back as Kelantan were repeatedly caught out in defence.
There are 11 more matches for Kelantan to go through to fight for their stay in the Super League and that starts with the weekend's encounter against the only side below them in the league table, Negeri Sembilan.