Queens Park Rangers vs Sabah Selection XI
Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia.
Once again, we landed at the evergrowing hub of Airasia, LCCT. Next up for QPR on their travels were a team highly thought of in these parts of the world. These were Malaysia’s very own footballing heavyweights, Kelantan Red Warriors.
Many were predicting a tightly fought contest, thus expecting the Kelantan strike force to go one (two, or even three) better than that of the Sabah strikers.
There was a general hype in KL, fortunately, most of the noise and excitement was coming from Airasia’s ‘Redfort’, the home of AA’s very own ‘Allstars’. Not so much noise could be heard from central KL, nevertheless, Airasia would provide all the support.
The team scheduled a short flight for a training session in Kota Bharu, the home of the Warriors. If KL was lacking in support, the people of Kota Bharu certainly made up for it.
With the unveiling of the eagerly awaiting new QPR design Airbus 320, (and what a fine piece of tin that is), there was a general buzz around KL now. Better late than never, I say. Great design skills from the ever impressive Airasia team. Fully furnished and kitted out in some fine memorabilia, all that was needed to finally break this beauty in, was to get her off the ground.
On hopped the QPR players, followed by the Ultimate Rangers, the plane was destined for Kota Bharu for a days training and meet and greet session. With ultimate exclusivity, we were under strict protocol to be, well, not heard or seen. In fact I had to have another look at my seat number, because this was feeling like i would be sitting in seat #WC1, the toilet. However, the staff of Airasia once again came up trumps and gave permission to do what the hell we wanted, as long as we didn’t prop ourselves on the lap of Park-Ji-Sung or conduct a mission to steal Cisse’s shades (who the hell wears shades on a plane?). So, I took an M&M from the offering Shaun Wright-Philips. This was not just any ordinary M&M, but a chocolate coated peanut M&M. Good choice, little man.
The training session was quite straightforward. A few exercises, a few balls sporadically kicked around the stands to roars of cheers, lose a friendly penalty shootout and head back to KL to prepare for the big game the next day.
The Shah Alam stadium can be pretty intimidating when reached to its full capacity, but when there is only a half populated stadium it can be quite cold and sterile.
The fans tried to get the atmosphere going, but it had the same effect as another low cost airline trying to challenge Airasia in the low cost flights business — failed miserably. Nevertheless, the Airasia Allstars were out in full voice once again and showed us how it should be done.
The match never really got going, and Kelantan failed at the first hurdle — letting the occasion get the better of them. It was quite a numb encounter.
Kelantan coming out the back end of a domestic championship, playing 40+ games, really showed in their tiring efforts. In fact the brightest thing to come from the Warriors was their fiery, bright red strip.
In contrast, QPR showed a few signs of creativity and massed up a total of five goals to Kelantan’s uninspiring zero. This was a game that clearly gave Asian Football a reality check in difference of class, power, and skill. A fine example of the sheer inferiority showed when Kelantan’s deputy goalkeeper made a brief appearance in the 2nd half. At times, I found it difficult to see him (and his rash decision making). He measured a massive 5ft 2″. Enough height to squat a mosquito, yes, but to stop a fine Cisse chip, no so much. It was just as well he didn’t get behind a powering Cisse strike. One thing for sure, he wouldn’t be needing to travel back home courtesy of Airasia, but flying home on Cisse Airways at super sonic speed.
Malaysia done and dusted for QPR. Next up on their travels, Indonesia.