By ERIC SAMUEL
PETALING JAYA: Table-toppers Kelantan have a glorious opportunity to clinch the Super League title in front of their passionate home fans next week.
All they require is six more points from their remaining four matches and wins against Negri Sembilan in Paroi on Tuesday and Perak at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru on Saturday will do the trick.
National goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat said it would be a glorious way to lift the crown in front of their faithful fans.
“We can win it in style and there’s nothing better than to reward our fans who have been a great source of inspiration to the team,” said Khairul from Kota Baru yesterday. On Friday, the Red Warriors dislodged leaders Lions XII from the top of the 14-team standings for the first time in two months when they edged Selangor 1-0 at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru.
Kelantan top the table with 51 points from 22 matches while the Singaporeans have 50 from 24 games. The Lions XII, who are on a three-week break because of the AFC Under-22 qualifiers, will wrap up their M-League fixtures against T-Team away on July 10 and Johor FC at home on July 14. But there is a strong possibility the title chase will be over by then.
Khairul said it would be a big blow to lose the crown to a neighbouring country.
“There’s a lot of pride at stake here. We don’t want a foreign team to be champions of our league. We were somewhat worried when Lions XII were leading the standings but now that we have overtaken them … there’s no looking back,” said Khairul.
Barring any upsets, the championship race may go down the wire and be decided in the last two fixtures where Kelantan play away to Felda United on July 10 and at home to Sarawak on July 14.
Khairul felt that the competition was getting tougher by the day.
“Kelantan are the team to beat and that is why we are under tremendous pressure. At times we have struggled a bit,” said Khairul, clearing referring to the match against Terengganu which they drew 2-2 after throwing away a two-goal lead.
Khairul said there is hard work ahead because Negri Sembilan and Perak are tough customers. Kelantan, who have lost only once all season, are gunning for the double after having won the FA Cup in June.
Bojan Hodak’s men are also going strong in the AFC Cup. They have qualified for the quarter-finals and will meet Arbil FC of Iraq in September.
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