Kedah display strength in depth
KEDAH made light of the absences of four key players to regain top spot in the Super League on Saturday, highlighting the depth in coach Tan Cheng Hoe’s squad.
Ken Ilso and Sandro Mendonca each scored twice as Kedah routed Malacca 4-0 at the Darulaman Stadium in Alor Star to move two points clear of Pahang, who went down 3-2 at champions Darul Ta’zim on Friday.
Kedah were without Ahmad Fakri Saarani (medial cruciate ligament) and captain Baddrol Bakhtiar, who was not risked despite returning to training after injury, while right-back Rizal Ghazali was suspended and centre-back Khairul Helmi Johari benched.
But their replacements Asri Mardzuki, Akram Mahinan, Syawal Nordin and Syazwan Zainon settled in seamlessly as Kedah extended their unbeaten run to 20 matches since August last year.
“The players played well although it was not easy,” Cheng Hoe said yesterday.
“We had a few players not available through injury and suspension and I also decided not to use Syafiq Ahmad to give him a break.”
Having been knocked off the top of the standings last Wednesday after a 1-1 draw with Selangor, Cheng Hoe said being top only makes Kedah a bigger target for other teams.
“We may be top of the Super League but every match is going to be tough,” said Cheng Hoe, who led Kedah to the Malaysia Cup title last year.
“Being unbeaten is good but our away form is still nowhere close to how we play at home. We cannot depend just on winning on home ground.”
Kedah travel to Ipoh for an allSuper League clash against Perak in the FA Cup third round next weekend with Cheng Hoe hoping at least Baddrol will be back to play from the injured players.
Perak coach Mehmet Durakovic savoured his first victory in three matches since replacing Karl-Heinz Weigang at the helm after Zaquan Adha Radzak’s penalty was enough to see off his former team Selangor 1-0 in Selayang.
Selangor coach P. Maniam said that defender Ugo Ukah’s red card in the 65th minute, which led to the penalty award, changed the course of the game.
“Even though we were down to 10 men, I thought the players showed their character, especially the seniors like Bunyamin Umar and Razman Roslan,” said Maniam after Selangor’s second league defeat.
Kedah’s Sandro Da Silva Mendanca (left) celebrates scoring against Malacca on Saturday.