Negeri to give dazzler free rein

Sundram (left) is eyeing Marlon James (right), who has received offers from several teams.

He has starred for Malaysian states as a player, becoming a hero for Kedah when they won the Malaysia Cup in 1990.

Next year will be the first time V Sundramoorthy will coach a Malaysian team, when he takes over the reins at Negeri Sembilan.

The target set for the Singaporean in his first season in charge is promotion to the Malaysian Super League (MSL).

Negeri finished bottom of the MSL this season and were relegated to the second-tier Malaysian Premier League (MPL).

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, a Negeri FA spokesman said that Sundram will have free rein over appointments and player transfers.

"Sundram has already spoken to us about a few possible signings for next year, but no one has been signed yet. We will be working on that in the next few weeks," the spokesman said.

"He will also decide on who he wishes to retain for next year.

"Sundram was our first choice to replace (head coach) Divaldo (Alves).

We knew he would have offers from other clubs, so we spoke to him as soon as the MSL ended.

"His target is to get the club back into the Super League."

Sundram resigned as LionsXII coach yesterday and will officially begin his Seremban stint on Nov 1.

Better pay

The 48-year-old, who guided the LionsXII to the MSL title this season, will earn about US$20,000 ($25,000) a month during his two-year tenure, more than twice his $8,500 monthly salary with the FA of Singapore.

His first move as Negeri coach will be to rope in K Balagumaran as his No. 2.

Bala, former Gombak coach in the S-League in 2012, took over from Kadir Yahaya as LionsXII assistant coach this year.

"Sundram is still in talks with Negeri about my appointment", said Bala.

"It would be a new adventure for me. Hopefully, by next week, my contract will be tied up."

Negeri's fortunes have nosedived over the past year. They won the MSL title in 2006 and were Malaysia Cup winners in 2009 and 2011. The team are looking at Sundram to kickstart their push back into the big time.

One of Sundram's targets is ATM FA striker Marlon James. He has made no secret of his admiration for the 36-year-old from St Vincent and Grenadines, who scored a hat-trick against the LionsXII last Friday to dump the Singapore side out of the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals. "Marlon is one of the players Sundram wants to sign for next year," said the Negeri spokesman.

"But, as I understand, he (James) has received more than five offers for next season, and he will not make a decision until after the Malaysia Cup."

Also on Sundram's radar is Sime Darby's Karlo Primorac, the top scorer in the MPL with 24 goals this season. A source revealed that he wanted LionsXII defender Safuwan Baharudin, but the 22-yearold is set to join MSL side T-Team.

aakasim@sph.com.sg


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