Kelantan braced for 'biggest' game of MSL season vs. PKNS FC
Defender S. Subramaniam described the must-win Malaysia Super League (MSL) clash of Kelantan against PKNS FC on Wednesday night as their "biggest" game of the season, with the troubled state side only a point above safety.
Last week's 3-0 defeat to MSL champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) was Kelantan's 11th league loss of the season. They are just above the equally poor Sarawak, who host Kedah in Kuching on the same night.
"This is our biggest game of the season and it is important we take on PKNS at high intensity throughout 90 minutes," Subramaniam told ESPN FC.
"Our club situation has been a plan to fail and fail to plan. We didn't prepare well throughout the season, and now it has come down to this. For a big team like Kelantan, relegation shouldn't even be thought of. We have to deliver in the next two games."
His sentiments sum up Kelantan's wretched campaign in 2017.
From not being assured of their participation at the season's start, the Red Warriors sold their best player Mohammed Ghaddar for an undisclosed fee to JDT, and his replacement Abou Bakr El Mel has not lived up to expectations.
The club were also docked three points for failing to comply with administration requirements to take part in this season's campaign.
But things are looking up after Kelantan's new president Bibi Ramjani came on board last week. The first thing she did was settle the players' outstanding salary for July and August.
"It's too early to comment much on her, but from early observation I think she is honest and optimistic," Subramaniam said.
Apart from the centre-back who misses out to a groin strain, Kelantan will be at full strength. Their opponents, PKNS, have little left to play for, finding themselves in a safe seventh position.
With Penang already doomed for the drop, the focus is on the second team who might join them in being relegated to the second tier for next season.
If Sarawak succumb to Kedah and Kelantan win, then the Crocs will join the Panthers in the Premier League.
At the top, JDT will travel to face an in-form Felda United, who turned in a remarkable performance to beat PKNP FC in the Malaysia Cup quarterfinals.
The Fighters, who lost the first leg 3-1, stung the Premier League high fliers 4-1 to book a semifinal berth against Kedah.
Pahang will also be optimistic of retaining second spot -- guaranteeing them a berth at next year's AFC Cup -- when they travel to face T-Team.
Other fixtures will see Perak host Penang, while Melaka United welcome the visit of Selangor.
MSL Fixtures (Wednesday)
Sarawak vs. Kedah
Felda United vs. JDT
Kelantan vs. PKNS FC
Melaka United vs. Selangor
Perak vs. Penang
T-Team vs. Pahang
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.