Ghaddar brings relief for Kelantan
UNDER pressure Kelantan coach Zahasmi Ismail shed tears of joy after watching his team end a run of three straight defeats in the Super League with a 4-2 win over Perak thanks to Mohammed Ghaddar’s hat-trick on Wednesday.
Kelantan fans began deserting the team after three defeats on the bounce — all in Kota Baru — with only 2,500 spectators bothering to turn out for their 2-0 defeat to Selangor last weekend.
That is why an emotional Zahasmi viewed the win in Ipoh as crucial to regaining fan support and restoring confidence to the team following the wretched home run.
“I am very grateful to my players for getting three very valuable points,” he said after the match at the Perak Stadium.
“We were given a huge fight by Perak but my players followed instructions and we were successful in the end.”
Zahasmi took a gamble by dropping goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat in favour of inexperienced Ramadhan Hamid while also revamping the back line by restoring Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Farisham Ismail and Zairul Fitri Ishak with captain Badhri Radzi also coming back in.
In acknowledging the effectiveness of the changes, Zahasmi said: “It’s normal in football when you win that every decision you make is the right one. On the other hand, when you are losing, everything you do is wrong.”
Kelantan’s win came despite Ghaddar’s second goal being scored from an offside position following a long pass by Badhri seven minutes from the end when the score was still 1-1.
Vladislav Mirchev opened the scoring for Perak before Ghaddar equalised in the 38th minute. After making it 2-1, the Lebanon striker completed his hat-trick from the spot and there was still time for Mirchev and Indra Putra Mahayuddin to trade goals near the end.
The defeat left new Perak coach Mehmet Durakovic still searching for his first win after two matches since replacing Karl-Heinz Weigang, having made just one change from their last match with centre-back Shahrom Kalam coming in for Shahrul Saad.
“In the first half, we should have at least had three or four goals,” said Durakovic, whose team blew a 2-0 lead in drawing 2-2 with Felda last weekend.
“We tried to pressure, we tried to go forward and we got caught in the counter attack in the second half.
The win pushed Kelantan up to sixth in the standing on nine points with Perak dropping to fifth on 11 points.