Posts Tagged ‘Kelantan’

Kelantan v Perak, Saturday 24th February 2018, 9pm

March 27, 2018

I’d picked this game as it had originally been scheduled for an afternoon kick-off. Of course by the time the game came around and after I’d booked the flights and a hotel, it had been shifted to a 9pm start. Our mid-morning flight to Kota Bharu took just under an hour, which was a lot easier than I imagine the alternative of an eight-hour drive to a town high up on the east coast and only about fifteen miles from the Thai border would have been.

There’s not lot goes on in Kota Bharu. We called into their state museum which seems to celebrate Islam successes rather than local or state achievements. Until our visit I hadn’t realised that everything that had ever been invented had been first thought of by a muslim gadgee and then just tweaked slightly by whoever the western world subsequently credited with the invention. I was hoping to see an early version of my sadly non-patented and brandy-fueled brainwaves of the Ryan Air coat for getting around flight luggage restrictions and the spoon with a hole in it for those who don’t like too much milk with their cornflakes. However, there mustn’t have been room for them among the planes, motor vehicles and weaponry.

The only other activity we could find to occupy us was a walk along the river. The stretch that you can access is pretty short and in the hour or so that it kept us occupied we saw nothing more than a couple of bright yellow birds, a few scabby but friendly feral cats and a sleeping tramp.

The Sultan Mohammad IV stadium was only a short walk from our hotel and was overlooked from our room. I’d had a bit of a fright when I woke from a pre-match nap as I noticed players running around under the floodlights. Fortunately it was just the warm-up and not another revision to the kick-off time.

On the way into the ground we stopped for some food. You never really know what will be available inside and even then, it’s rarely up to much. Jen had chicken and rice, whilst I had char kway teoh or something. It’s flat noodles with chicken. I’ve had it in Thailand before and it was better there. Still, it enabled us to watch the pre-match chat on a telly.

Even though our food choices were something that you imagine would be knocked up in a few minutes, they took a while to arrive and so despite arriving in town eight hours before kick-off the game started without us. We had the usual lap of the ground to find the ticket office where we bought fifteen ringgit seats behind the goal. When we’d looked from our window that has appeared to be the section with the fewest fans.

It turned out that we were right next to the Perak fans and their drums. We would have been in with them if I hadn’t nipped under a tape barrier. Still, everyone was very friendly, if a little louder than I’d have liked them to have been.

The visitors opened the scoring mid-way through the first half. I couldn’t tell you what happened as it was up the other end and I was looking around the crowd. They held their lead well into the second half until Korean Do Dong-Hyun equalised for the hosts. I think the Perak fans had been taking victory a little for granted, but they took the Kelantan celebrations well.

They had less than a minute to wait though to regain the lead and then it was the turn of those around me to flash those wry smiles. Ten minutes of Perak time-wasting later and Kelantan were level again with another from the Korean fella. At that point the game could have gone either way and I think neither side would have been too disappointed with a draw.

There was more to come in the final moments though and we had a brawl, a disallowed goal at one end and a legitimate one at the other, a hat-trick effort from Mr. Do to clinch the points. I’d been tempted to nip off early to try to find somewhere for post-match drinking but with most of the action condensed into the last quarter it’s just as well that we didn’t.

Kelantan v Ratchaburi, Saturday 20th January 2018, 8pm

February 19, 2018

 

The 2018 Malaysian Super League kicks off in a couple of weeks time. As part of Kelantan’s preparations they had signed up to a three team tournament, the Boost Sportsfix Super Cup and as we all know, putting ‘Super’ in a competition’s name makes it extremely prestigious. I wouldn’t usually bother with this sort of nonsense, but the tournament was being held at the newly reopened National Stadium at Bukit Jalil and it was a chance to pop along on an occasion where I doubted demand would be high.

Tickets were being sold online in advance and there were some that were described as VIP and came with food and drink. Whilst they were ten times the price of regular tickets they were still only twenty-five quid and for that price I thought we might as well see how the other half lives. The traffic in KL was reasonably light for a Saturday afternoon and we pulled into the car park outside the ground a good hour and a half before kick-off.

It’s an impressive looking stadium, although I’m not sure how much of that is due to the refurbishment. Perhaps it had always looked good. We did a lap of the outside, weaving our way between pockets of Kelantan fans. It’s a seven hour drive from their Kota Bharu location way up on the east coast, so I suspect that a lot of them will actually have been based in the capital. Mind you, it’s a lot further to Ratchaburi in Thailand and so it wasn’t surprising that we didn’t see any fans outside supporting the opposition.

At the end of our circuit of the perimeter we made our way into the VIP entrance. There was an area where a buffet was being set up which we were told would open at 8pm, kick-off time. That struck me as a little odd, as I’d thought the food was intended to keep you occupied during the times when there wasn’t any football going on. Maybe VIPs don’t want to spend much time watching the game.

With no food available we went for a mooch around and once clear of security we sneaked into the room where the press conferences take place. I don’t often include myself in photos when at the match, but you can’t miss an opportunity to capture yourself announcing a Willo Flood magnitude signing.

Our VIP seats were as disappointing as the catering arrangements. They were close to the half-way line but next to a cordoned off better section. Perhaps for ‘Super’ VIPs. The other seats were bigger and had arm rests.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they received complimentary ear-plugs as well to muffle the hundred decibel stadium announcer.

This game was the final match of a three team tournament involving an Indonesian team. The results of the previous two games meant that Kelantan needed a draw to take the trophy, whilst Ratchaburi had to win by three or four goals depending upon whatever the criteria was for separating teams tied on points and goal difference.

Rain started to fall before kick-off and after the unnecessary rigmarole of the national anthems the couple of thousand Kelantan fans opposite sang their state anthem. Our side of the ground got out of our seats again and the players stood to attention as if it was a formal rendition. We had only just sat down when they piped up once more, or maybe we got the second verse.  Anyway, the Kelantan players  felt obliged to delay their final preparations to stand to attention for a fourth time whilst we added to the wear and tear on our knees by getting up again.

There was a Boro connection in the newly appointed Ratchaburi manager, Christian Zeige. Usually that would be enough to sway my allegience, but the manner of his departure to Liverpool balanced out any positive feelings I might have had from his time at the Riverside. Still, I’m not one to bear a grudge and it was nice to see that his spots have cleared up. Perhaps it’s the sunny climate.

Once underway, it was an entertaining exercise for what was effectively a pre-season friendly. Ratchaburi opened the scoring and then after being pegged back took a three-one lead. That meant Kelantan needed two goals to take the trophy and Ratchaburi maybe just the one. Both sides having to score opened the game up which enabled Kelantan to pull level at three each and put one hand on the trophy.

However, despite Ratchaburi having too much to do to win the competition they didn’t settle for the draw and somehow nicked a winner at the death. The late goal determined that neither team took the cup and in an unexpected turn of events it was left to the representatives of the Indonesian team to make off with the swag.