PETALING JAYA (BY ERIC SAMUEL): Kelantan striker Keita Mandjou is beginning to hit form – and that’s bad news for their Super League rivals.
The 33-year-old Guinea hitman was brought in to boost the Red Warriors’ strike force following the departure of hotshots Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (to Johor Darul Takzim) and Mohd Ghaddar Mahmoud (to Felda United).
“We can see that Mandjou is hitting form and has scored four goals in the last three matches,” said team manager Azman Ibrahim from Kota Baru yesterday.
“It’s a matter of time before we get back our momentum.”
Mandjou, a Golden Boot winner with Perak in 2006, began poorly with Kelantan this season, firing blanks in the opening six matches before finally opening accounts with a brace in the 2-0 win over Terengganu.
He has since been on target with a goal each in their last two drawn matches – against Pahang (2-2) and Perak (1-1).
Mandjou’s poor start has also seen treble winners Kelantan struggling to get their act right in the 12-team league this season.
After nine matches, they are in seventh spot with 11 points from two wins, five draws and two defeats.
This is in total contrast to last season, when they topped the standings with 20 points from six wins, two draws and a defeat.
This year, they’ve only managed eight goals – compared to 16 last season – after nine matches.
“There were matches we should have won, including the home tie against Perak on Friday. We had so many chances but were unlucky not to score,” said Azman.
“But I believe we’re getting better. Now that Mandjou, who has gone without a goal for more than a month, has ended his barren spell, we’ll move up the ladder soon.”
Kelantan, who have maintained their impressive 32-match unbeaten run at home since last season, will open their AFC Cup campaign in Group G against Maziya Sports and Recreation of Maldives at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru on Wednesday.
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