Kedah dis­play strength in depth

New Straits Times - - Sport - Devin­der Singh

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.

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