KOTA BARU, Feb 6 ― A pink tide has swept Kelantan and the now rebranded “Pamoga Qu Puteh The Red Warriors” have no excuse if they don’t challenge for at least one title in the M-League.
The RM16 million sponsorship deal with cosmetics company Vida Beauty Sdn Bhd gives the players financial security as Vida Beauty owner Datuk Hasmiza Othman insisted their welfare be taken care off.
Last season, there were several instances of players not receiving their salaries on time and Hasmiza said: “I want to make sure the team return to the top. I’ve provided everything they need including sufficient funds to ensure their salaries are paid on time.
“I’ll make sure my money is not misused.”
The players have welcomed her statement and promised to give their best but that was not evident in their 2-0 loss to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Kelantan FA (Kafa) president Tan Sri Annuar Musa, however, said the defeat could be a blessing.
“It was our first defeat after having played four friendlies. This means it’s a signal we can be beaten if we’re below par,” he warned.
“We’ll leave it to coach K. Devan to develop better understanding among the players, especially the locals and imports.”
Kelantan have signed three new foreigners — Baze Ilijoski, Dramane Traore and Jonatan Lucca — who join defender Jonathan McKain who has one more year with the team.
Former Malaysian midfielder Indra Putra Mahayuddin and rightback Daudsu Jamaluddin return to their former team to give Kelantan some much needed experience.
They have also signed Abdul Manaf Mamat, Mohd Faizal Abu Bakar and Muslim Ahmad and promoted five youngsters from their President’s Cup squad.
Kelantan face Perak in their opening match on February 13 and Devan said he would not underestimate them.
“They’ve bought good foreigners and with a new coach and new players, it’s hard to predict how the match will go,” he said.
“But we’re ready for them.”
He added the new imports arrived recently but have fitted in well.
Captain Mohd Badhri Mohd Radzi agreed with his new coach.
“We’re like family. That’s the only way we can beat our opponents,” he said.
“We must be united to ensure our matches aren’t jeopardised due to lack of understanding.”
Meanwhile, Devan has identified Malaysia Cup winners Selangor, league champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and Kedah as title contenders.
“I expect these three to give us a tough time this season,” he said.
Team Name: Kelantan
Nickname: Pamoga Qu Puteh The Red Warriors
Achievements last season: Super League (ninth), Malaysia Cup (third in Group C), FA Cup (runners-up)
Coach: K. Devan
Star players: Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Mohd Badhri Radzi
Mailsport rating: Three-and-a-half stars