By K. RAJAN
PETALING JAYA: The Red Warriors are ready to pack more firepower upfront with the introduction of strikers Dimitri Petratos of Australia and Dickson Nwakaeme of Nigeria in their AFC Cup Group G opener against Maziya Sports and Recreation (Maziya S&RC) of Maldives at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru tonight.
Leading striker Keita Mandjou of Guinea has not been registered for the AFC Cup competition, which allows each team to name four foreign signings. The east coast giants’ other imports are defenders Lek Kcira of Croatia and Obinna Nwaneri of Nigeria.
Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak is confident his new strikeforce will deliver the goods, although the pair have only played once together in a friendly.
Petratos and Nwakaeme played in a friendly against Indonesian club Semen Padang last month. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, with the 20-year-old Petratos scoring off a Nwakaeme assist.
“Petratos and Nwakaeme played well in the friendly and have shown good understanding in training,” said Hodak yesterday.
“I’m confident they can bring in the goals for us in the competition. They’re also aware that a good performance in the AFC Cup might get them registered for the M-League during the April transfer window.
“It’ll be interesting to see the competition between the foreign players and I believe it’ll be good for the team.”
Kelantan will be looking to extend their impressive 32-match unbeaten home run and a better outing in the AFC Cup competition, which they reached the quarter-finals last year.
However, the treble winners are going through a lean spell in the Super League and could only collect 11 points to occupy seventh spot after nine matches.
“We’re aiming for a home win against Maziya S&RC and keep an eye on our Super League match against Lions XII on Saturday,” said Hodak.
“We can’t afford to look down on any opponents … Maldives football has improved a lot and we need to be cautious.”
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