Ken Ilso, Zach Anderson to leave Malaysia Cup champions Kedah
Kedah must brace themselves for a rebuilding phase ahead of their 2018 campaign after striker Ken Ilso and defender Zac Anderson announced their departures at the end of this season.
The key import players released the news over the weekend after the 3-2 victory over Selangor in the quarterfinals of the Malaysia Cup.
Given that Kedah will contest the AFC Cup next season, it came as a surprise for the team who are reigning Malaysia FA Cup and Malaysia Cup champions.
The state side are also second in the Malaysia Super League, and will have the upper hand when they face Selangor in the second leg of their Malaysia Cup quarterfinal on Sept. 23.
Denmark's Ilso, who bagged a double in Friday night's victory over Selangor, isn't sure where he is headed to next.
"Yesterday I made my 24th goal in 28 matches. I have one Charity Shield and a FA Cup trophy and wonderful memories with the fans, supporters and passionate love from the people of Kedah," the Danish striker said via his official Instagram account.
Yesterday I made my 24th goal in 28 matches. I have 1 Charity Shield and 1 FA Cup trophy and wonderful memories with the fans, supporters and passionate love from the people of Kedah. I have decided that I will part ways with the club after this season. Where my future ends up, is still yet to be decided however I will try new challenges next season. I will give everything in the last games for Kedah. Thanks to my team mates and staff for making my stay in Alor Setar amazing. It has been a pleasure playing for the Kedahans. All the best, King Ken 👑#legendarisk
"I have decided I will part ways with club after this season. Where my future ends up, is still yet to be decided. I will give everything in the last games for Kedah."
Ilso, the former Bundesliga forward who scored in the FA Cup final against Pahang, has been a revelation for the Red Eagles since joining from Singapore outfit Home United in 2016.
His intelligent movement and deft finishing meant Kedah did not miss the services of fellow strikers Shane Smeltz and Thiago Augusto, who left last year.
At the back, strapping Australian centre-back Anderson forged an equally commanding partnership with Khairul Helmi Johari.
Like Ilso, the former Sydney FC defender who has played in the AFC Champions League, is also undecided on his next move.
It's time to take a moment to say thank you to the supporters of Kedah, for the season which we have shared together so far. I've never experienced such love and support from strangers and it's been quite overwhelming. But, I have decided that at this seasons end I will part ways with KFA to explore other opportunities. My future is still undecided, but I hope to stay close with the many amazing friends I have made from the club, changing room, respected fan groups and of course the boys from Alor Setar (you know who you are). But, as you all know, we have one more trophy to secure.. As a true professional I will do everything to help this club finish in the best position possible. Thankyou. #pulunkedahpulun #ZA4 Izinkan saya merakamkan setinggi-tinggi penghargaan dan ucapan terima kasih buat penyokong-penyokong Kedah FA untuk musim ini yang dikongsi bersama. Tidak sama sekali pernah saya dibanjiri sokongan dan dorongan yang begitu bersemangat dari para penyokong kalian - ramai lagi yang masih tidak sempat untuk saya berkenalan. Walaubagaimanapun, dengan hati yang amat berat, saya telah memutuskan, pada hujung musim ini, untuk berpisah jalan dengan KFA untuk mencari peluang-peluang yang baru untuk meningkatkan lagi keupayaan diri saya sendiri. Walaupun masa hadapan saya masih tidak tentu, tetapi saya berharap untuk mengekalkan jalinan-jalinan erat bersama rakan-rakan setugas di dalam dan luar KFA, rakan seperjuangan di dalam dan luar bilik salinan, kelab-kelab penyokong yang saya sanjung dengan penuh hormat, dan terutamanya, rakan-rakan karib yang saya kenali sepanjang kediaman saya di tanah Darulaman. (You know who you are). Namun, tugasan dan perjuangan kita masih belum selesai. Masih banyak lagi kerja dan fokus harus diberikan untuk cubaan kita memastikan Piala Malaysia tidak berpindah tuannya. Sebagai atlit professional, misi saya adalah untuk memberikan sedaya-upaya dari segi kemampuan untuk memastikan musim KFA berakhir dengan sempurna. Dan 'sempurna' di sini bermaksud; Satu lagi piala. Terima kasih. #pulunkedahpulun #ZA4
"I've never experienced such love and support from strangers and it's been quite overwhelming. But I have decided at this season end I will part ways with KFA to explore other opportunities," Anderson announced on his Instagram page.
"As a true professional, I will do everything to help this club finish in the best position possible."
The remaining imports are Kosovar playmaker Liridon Krasniqi, and Brazilian midfielder Sandro Da Silva.
Ilso and Anderson's departure will come as a big blow to coach Nidzam Adzha, who praised his foreign legion for an outstanding performance against Selangor.
Earlier this year, Tan Cheng Hoe had also left the club to join the national team set up as assistant coach to Nelo Vingada.
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.