Kelantan not out for revenge: Azraai

Kelantan coach Azraai Khor Abdullah says his men (above) have learnt from their FA Cup final loss to the LionsXII and will not repeat their mistakes when the teams meet in the MSL tomorrow.
Kelantan coach Azraai Khor Abdullah says his men (above) have learnt from their FA Cup final loss to the LionsXII and will not repeat their mistakes when the teams meet in the MSL tomorrow.THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

It has been more than a month since Kelantan's 1-3 loss to the LionsXII in the Malaysian FA Cup final, but the pain of that defeat still lingers for many of their 80,000 fans who had packed the Bukit Jalil Stadium that May night.

Tomorrow, however, they will be presented with a shot at redemption when they meet Fandi Ahmad's troops in a Malaysia Super League (MSL) clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

"Facing the FA Cup champions, we're going to take the game differently," said Kelantan coach Azraai Khor Abdullah.

"After the final, we identified some weaknesses in our team, and we will take it as a lesson so that it won't happen again in Singapore."

It is this drive at continual improvement and meticulous preparation, rather than the prospect of revenge, which motivates the 62-year-old coach.

"As a coach, I want to prepare everything and put up the best fight," he added.

"There is no thought of revenge."

With the LionsXII managing only two wins - their FA Cup triumph and a 1-0 league win in the 2013 season - in their past eight encounters with Kelantan, the Malaysian side are still tipped as favourites to win tonight's clash.

But Azraai has endured a torrid time as an opposing coach facing the Singapore outfit. He has led MSL teams Negeri Sembilan, Perak, T-Team and now Kelantan, but has only a solitary victory in nine matches against the LionsXII to show for.

Since replacing George Boateng in the Kelantan hot seat in late March, he has also struggled to lift the side, as they amassed just four points in his six league matches in charge to lie 10th in the 12-team MSL table.

It is no wonder then that Azraai will be wary of the threat Fandi's side will pose tomorrow.

"I expect them to be better than they were in the FA Cup final. He has done a good job and they are a motivated group," he noted.

"The team which makes the least mistakes will win."

Azraai can ill-afford for his charges to make mistakes as they bid to climb up the table with 11 games left. "We are trying to do our best in the league and want to get (away) from the relegation zone," he said. "It's important."

The LionsXII are seventh, six points ahead of Kelantan, albeit with two more games played.

MALAYSIA SUPER LEAGUE

LionsXII v Kelantan

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2015, with the headline 'Kelantan not out for revenge: Azraai'. Print Edition | Subscribe