Kelantan will be opening their inaugral AFC Cup campaign against Navibank Saigon, who could prove to be tricky on Wednesday.
Both sides will face off at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, after Kelantan's home ground in Kota Bahru failed to pass AFC regulations. Nevertheless, this match has every ingredient needed to be an explosive one.
The home side are on the back of an impressive season in the Malaysian Super League so far, sitting majestically at the top of the table. However, the Red Warriors have been tangled in controversy recently, with the departure of Peter Butler from Kelantan being a major talking point.
Nonetheless, former UPB-MyTeam coach Bojan Hodak has been drafted in to chart their fortunes, and his tenure kick started with a brilliant win over Negeri Sembilan last weekend.
Going up against the defending Vietnamese Cup champions, Kelantan are likely to field their two import signings in the form of Denny Antwi and Mohammed Ghaddar, both who were reserved specifically for the AFC Cup. Badri Radzi will continue to lead in midfield, but defender S. Subramaniam is likely to miss this one, after picking up an injury in their win over Negeri Sembilan.
As for the away side, there is plenty of motivation for Navibank Saigon with their struggles in V-League this year. The Vietnamese side currently sit at 11th place in the V-League, struggling to cope with the pace of the front runners.
Pham Cong Lok has already reiterated that his boys will be keen to put their domestic misery behind and come up with a confident performance on Wednesday, but all that remains to be seen.
"The majority of my players will be making their first ever appearance in the AFC Cup, but our current position in the Vietnam league is not a good start for us," Pham told reporters in a press conference.
"Nevertheless, we will give our best from start to finish."
With both sides aiming to kick start their AFC Cup campaign on a high note, it will definitely be an interesting affair. Per contra, the pressure will be on Kelantan to deliver, with the resonant backing of their hardcore fans.
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