Johor DT remove Fandi from coaching duties

SINGAPORE - First, he was ousted from the hot seat at Johor Darul Takzim; now, Fandi Ahmad will not even get to keep it warm until his successor arrives.

The Singapore football legend, 51, was on Monday relieved of his coaching duties at the Southern Tigers - three weeks before the Malaysia Cup tournament kicks off.

Johor DT are drawn in Group B with PKNS, T-Team and Felda United.

Fandi will stay on with the club as team manager while Azmi Mohamed, coach of the state's second- tier outfit Johor FA, will take over on a temporary basis until Spaniard Cesar Ferrando Jimenez arrives next month.

Fandi could not be reached for comment on Tuesday but his immediate successor expressed surprise at developments.

"I was quite shocked," said Azmi, who led Johor FA to third place in the Malaysian Premier League this year. "But I am taking it positively and will try my best to ensure that the team do well in the Malaysia Cup."

He will, however, be aware of the level of expectation on the star-studded outfit.

After all, it is believed that Fandi paid the price for failing to deliver silverware despite club president and Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Idris splashing the cash on a host of star signings.

The likes of Spain's Euro 2008 winner Daniel Guiza and former Lazio winger Simone del Nero were handed big-money deals, only to leave after half a season.

Also brought in were established Malaysian internationals Safee Sali, Safiq Rahim, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Aidil Zafuan and Zaquan Adha.

But, even with the wealth of talent at Fandi's disposal, Johor failed to land a trophy or secure a spot in next year's Asian Football Confederation Cup. The team managed only third place in the 12-team Malaysian Super League - four points adrift of the winners, Singapore-based LionsXII.

They also fell short in the Malaysian FA Cup, losing 0-1 to Kelantan in last month's final.

Now, with the prestigious Malaysia Cup just around the corner, Azmi stressed that he will work closely with his predecessor.

"Fandi has been attending training as usual in his capacity as team manager," the 42-year-old confirmed. "I will definitely get his advice from time to time."

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