The Red Warriors have taken an unassailable lead in the group to qualify for the quarter-finals. And coach B. Sathianathan said that he would put the reserves to test against defending champions Kedah in Alor Setar on Saturday and against Armed Forces at home on Tuesday.
“The senior players will take a break as they have accomplished the mission in the group competition,” said Sathianathan from Kota Baru yesterday.
The former national coach added that it was now for the untested players to make the best of the opportunities to prove their worth.
“I want them to show me why they should be in the first team. If they can live up to expectations, they will get into my plans for the knockout stage,” said Sathianathan.
Kelantan kept intact their 100% win record in the group with a 2-1 victory over Penang 2-1 at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru two days ago.
The Red Warriors had beaten Penang (2-1), Kedah (1-0) and Forces (2-1) and with 12 points after four matches, they have opened an eight-point lead over Kedah and Penang. Forces are at the bottom of the table on two points.
In the quarter-final match-up, Kelantan will play against the winners of Group A, which now has KL Plus and Perlis in the battle to take the top spot. KL Plus now have 10 points – one point more than Perlis. The quarter-final first-leg matches are scheduled for Oct 20.
“We want to have the best men available for the quarter-finals. Therefore we won’t take the chances and risk injury or suspensions in this crucial stage of the competition,” said Sathianathan, who took over the Kelantan hot-seat after Englishman Peter Butler quit last month.
Among the senior hands in the squad are Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Khalid Jamlus, Mohd Nor Farhan Mohd, Che Hishamuddin Hasam, Halim Napi, Azlan Ahmad and Nazrul Erwan Makmor. THE STAR