Kelantan owner Bibi Ramjani lauds 'heroic' MSL survival after win
Tearful Kelantan owner Bibi Ramjani saluted her valiant players after they defied the odds to hold onto their Malaysia Super League (MSL) status.
The 2012 treble winners came from behind to win 3-1 away to Melaka United on Saturday night, as rivals Sarawak could only draw 0-0 at home to T-Team.
The results allowed Kelantan move to the safety of 10th position on the table, with Sarawak relegated, along with Penang.
Three goals in the final 16 minutes saw the Red Warriors secure only their seventh victory in 22 games this season, thanks to a double from Alessandro Celin.
"I salute my players for being fighters on the pitch. They gave it everything to get a win, and their heroics kept us up," Bibi said.
"I also want to thank the fans for their undying support. Despite logistical problems with their bus that broke down, they still came and backed the team until the end.
"There are a few new agendas that I have planned for next year. This is a wonderful beginning to a new revolution."
Kelantan were heavy relegation favourites ahead of the trip to Melaka, having not won a league match in three months.
It took the deftness of substitute Celin to break down a stubborn Melaka United side. The Brazilian-Italian forward scored for the first time this season, and the goals could turn out to be the most important of his career.
But wholesale changes are still needed to ensure Kelantan see no repeat of their last two disappointing campaigns, on and off the field.
Apart from being docked three points due to failing to register players on time, they sold top scorer Mohammed Ghaddar to Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) in 2017, and saw Uruguayan technical director Alfredo Carlos Gonzalez lasted only two months.
With Kelantan remaining in the MSL, Sarawak will join Penang in the Premier League next year.
Their spots in the top flight will be taken up by Premier League champions Kuala Lumpur and Terengganu.
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.