NEW DESTINATION: Coach wants to leave Kelantan with a bang
IN front of some of the players he moulded into one of Malaysia's best ever teams, Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak confirmed on Friday he will leave after the Malaysia Cup final on Nov 3, bringing to a close a two-year reign of success.
Kelantan reached the final for the fourth time in five seasons after edging Armed Forces 4-3 on aggregate.
Defined as the comeback kings this season, Kelantan -- who won the first leg 2-1 at Selayang Stadium -- scored late goals through Ahmad Fakri Saarani and captain Badhri Radzi to cancel out Marlon Alex James' first half brace for Forces in the return match in Kota Baru on Friday.
Kelantan also recorded remarkable comebacks against Terengganu and Darul Takzim in the FA Cup semi-finals and the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals, respectively, this season.
"Forces were effective in the first half with their pressing game. Our midfielders allowed them to do so. But I knew they would get tired as no team in the world can play that way for 90 minutes," said Hodak.
"We were too casual in the first half and conceded two goals. In the dressing room during half time, I told my players to step-up and reminded them the consequences of being too casual.
"Forces were tired after the breather and gave us more space. Substitute Fakri made the difference with his pace and penetration in their penalty box."
Hodak hopes to bid farewell to Kelantan on a high note by guiding them to a fifth title in two seasons. Kelantan have agreed terms with former Perak coach Steve Darby for next season as the replacement for Hodak, who has also received several offers.
"I've coached in many countries but was never so successful. It is not easy to win even one title but I helped Kelantan win three last season. I was expecting it as we had 18 quality players.
"But I wasn't so sure we would be successful this season after several players left. Despite the odds, we won the FA Cup and have now qualified for the Malaysia Cup final," said the 42-year-old.
Hodak, however, will not have former Nigeria international Obinna Nwaneri for the final as the centre-back is suspended after picking up his second yellow card on Friday. It is a huge blow for the coach as he has already lost Daudsu Jamaluddin to injury.
"It is a problem as Obinna cannot play. I will have to reshuffle the line-up and pick the best player for his job. Other players need to step-up," Hodak added.
Obinna was yellow carded in the second half despite winning the ball fairly from Forces' James.
Nik Shahrul Halim Abd Jalil, Azizi Matt Rose, Rizal Fahmi, Farisham Ismail and Zairul Fitri Ishak are the available defenders for the final.