Posts Tagged ‘Kelantan’

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.