By K. RAJAN
PETALING JAYA: Kelantan striker Keita Mandjou is ready to do all he can, despite not being at his lethal best yet, to mark a triumphant return to the M-League after a five-year hiatus when his team take on Armed Forces in the Charity Shield at the Shah Alam Stadium today.
The 33-year-old is no stranger to Malaysian football, having played an inspiring role for Perak en route to winning the Golden Boot awards in 2006 and 2007 before joining Brunei DPMM in the Singapore League.
Mandjou was signed from Pune FC by Kelantan last season to play in the AFC Cup but his registration was rejected and he ended up not playing any competitive match last season.
“I’m glad to finally play competitive football after six months … my ordeal is finally over,” said the former Guinea international after Kelantan’s training session at the Wisma FAM ground in Kelana Jaya yesterday.
“We played against Armed Forces three times last season and I think the coach (Bojan Hodak) knows what to expect from them. The match against Forces will definitely will be an exciting one.
“I’ve scored five goals in Kelantan’s eight pre-season friendlies, but they’re not the same as playing in a competitive match. I just hope I can continue working hard for the team.”
Mandjou said that he was only at 70% of his full prowess and “I’m slowly getting back my old form”.
But he is also aware of the huge expectations on him to score.
“I was the top scorer twice and people expect me to be just as prolific. I’ll just have to learn to live with the expectations,” said Mandjou.
“But I hope the fans will be patient … I haven’t played regularly and it’ll take some time before I reach my peak again.”
But the Kelantan fans will be praying that Mandjou can get into stride sooner rather than later after losing the bulk of their attacking force following the departures of Mohamad Ghaddar (to Felda United), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Nurul Azwan Roya (Johor Darul Takzim FC), S. Chanturu and Azlan Ismail (Perak) and Mohd Ramzul Zahini Adenan (Selangor).
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