Kelantan bemoan 'cruel' result as they face prospect of MSL relegation
Kelantan coach Zahasmi Ismail described football as "cruel" as he resigned himself to needing a miracle after seeing his struggling side drop to the relegation zone following the goalless draw against PKNS FC in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) on Wednesday night.
The Red Warriors will now have to beat Melaka United in their final game on Oct. 28 and hope that Sarawak drop points at home to T-Team to preserve their MSL status.
Kelantan's failure to beat PKNS at home saw Sarawak replace them out of the drop zone after staging a remarkable second-half performance to beat Malaysia FA Cup champions Kedah 4-2.
"We had a few injuries, especially to our strikers. We used all our forwards, but still failed to find the net and now find ourselves in this position. Football can be cruel," Zahasmi said.
"We have to accept this situation as we prepare for our final game. I hope we can get all our players back as we aim for a miracle."
Zahasmi's sad statement doesn't fill long-suffering fans with confidence as Kelantan look forward to their trip to Melaka, who beat Selangor 2-1 on Wednesday.
On the field, Kelantan were lucky to survive against PKNS, thanks to the brilliance of national goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat and the woodwork at the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium
The East Coast giants did not seem to have a cohesive game plan as they defended like schoolboys, and lacked direction going forward.
The inept performance also summed up the team's managerial incompetence this campaign. From not being assured of participation in the league, to being docked three points after not complying with administrative requirements, Kelantan's chaotic hierarchy seems to have taken a toll on their players.
The club received some long-awaited good news last week when businesswoman Bibi Ramjani took over as president and got to work by settling two months' of outstanding salaries.
But despite Bibi's presence in the stands at a half-empty stadium in Kota Bharu, Kelantan could not lift their game against PKNS, who were simply happy to improve on their seventh-placed standing.
"The new management has done everything to us their backing, but luck was not on our side against PKNS," was all Zahasmi could muster when asked on Bibi's support.
After Penang were relegated last week, one other MSL team will join them in the second division in 2018.
Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur will join the top flight next season after the joint Premier League leaders confirmed promotion, with one game to spare.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.