Thursday, May 12, 2016


Malaysia's Favourite Soap Opera Runs And Runs

We are never more than a day or two away from a classic Kelantan story. From the club that brought us skin cream lady and her specially designed football shirts that whiten a players skin to the continual refusal to honour things like contracts while demanding instant success Kelantan never fails to thrill. Sorry, that should be Pamoga Qu Puteh The Red Warriors for sponsorship reasons.

The latest drama emanating from Kota Bahru sees coach K Devan stepping down. In the 10 years of Jakarta Casual he was the 14th coach to try his luck in the hottest of hot seats. He lasted six months which isn't that bad I guess. He predecessor was given three and a half!

Kelantan didn't start the season that badly, winning two and drawing one of their first four games and even now they are sixth. Midtable perhaps but 12 points off the pace set by joint leaders Felda United and Johor Darul Ta'zim and only six ahead of cellar dwellers Sarawak and Penang. But the fans ain't happy, just over 3,000 watched their local derby at home to Terengganu, their lowest crowd for the season and scant reward for the team who had come from 2-0 down to recover and earn a points against champions JDT in their previous home game.

Rather than waiting to be sacked by the club's trigger happy owners, or even worse go on gardening leave, Devan has decided to jump ship saying it was a difficult decision but in the best interests of the football club. The experienced coach has tasted success in the past, leading unheralded Negeri Sembilan to the title in 2005/06, their first and to date only top flight title. He also guided Selangir to back to back success in 2009 and 2010 meaning in a five year period he won the Malaysia Super League three times.

But in Kelantan he has found a far tougher opponent than any other he has faced in the past and like many others before he has paid the ultimate price. It is telling that as he said his farewells he said 'I have no problems with the coaching staff, players and the fans'. Read into that what you will.

Kelantan are still embroiled in an unpaid salaries saga and there have also been rumblings skin cream lady, who came in with such a fanfare, is looking to get out of the sponsorship deal she signed with the club.

Which brings us to a messy conclusion. Where next for Kelantan? Traditionally underachievers in Malaysian football the last few years have seen unparalleled success for the north eastern club.

2010 - Malaysia Cup
2011 - Malaysia Super League, Charity Shield, FA Cup Runners Up
2012 - Malaysia Super League, Malaysia Cup, FA Cup, Charity Shield Runners Up
2013 - FA Cup, Malaysia Cup Runners Up, Charity Shield Runners Up
2015 - FA Cup Runners Up

Not a bad run is it but all good things must come to an end. Johor Darul Ta'zim have raised the bar not just on the pitch but off it with a level of professionalism Kelantan are never likely to replicate under the current owners while Felda United are showing what a bit of stability can do to an unfancied football club as they share top spot in the MSL with JDT.

Kelantan unfortunately are yesterday's story in football terms and that is unlikely to change until the ownership of the club changes or the current owners change their mindset.

UPDATE - Kelantan have  moved quickly and appointed Velizar Popov as coach. That was quick...has K Devan finished clearing out his desk yet? he has previously worked in the Maldives and with Suphanburi. Welcome to Annuar and skin cream lady!

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