Fandi demoted

BIG NAMES: Fandi Ahmad (above) has lost his job as Johor Darul Takzim coach but the side are said to be close to signing Argentinian Pablo Aimar.

Changes are afoot for Malaysian Super League (MSL) side Johor Darul Takzim - and coach Fandi Ahmad is the biggest casualty.

The 51-year-old Singapore football legend was demoted to assistant coach, with former Valencia and Atletico Madrid coach Cesar Ferrando Jimenez set to helm the high-spending side for the upcoming Malaysia Cup competition and beyond.

In a statement, Johor Darul Takzim chairman Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said: "We have decided to appoint a new Spanish head coach, who is very experienced in the game.

"Fandi is still with the team and his new role is assistant coach to Jimenez."

The former Young Lions and SAFFC coach could not be contacted at press time. He is understood to be in Chile visiting one of his sons.

Also, the big-spending club are likely to hire Juan Manuel Lillo Diez as an adviser.

Spaniard Diez, 47, advocated the 4-2-3-1 formation when he was the coach of then-Spanish Division B side Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa in 1991 and 1992.

Jimenez is expected to take over the side for the Malaysia Cup competition which begins after Hari Raya Puasa next month.

In addition, Tunku Ismail, who is also the crown prince of Johor and Johor FA president, said he has signed five new players, without disclosing their identities, and is close to signing former Argentina international Pablo Aimar.

Attacking midfielder Aimar started his professional career with River Plate in 1997 and last featured for Benfica last season. The 33-year-old is now a free agent.

Fandi joined Johor FA on a three-year contract in February last year as the second-tier Malaysian Premier League side's technical adviser and team manager.

He revealed in October last year that he would take over Johor's MSL side - Johor Darul Takzim - this season.

The early-season title favourites had a roster of big-name players such as former Spain striker Daniel Guiza, ex-Italy Under-21 international Simone del Nero, and Malaysian internationals Nurshahrul Idlan Talaha, Safiq Rahim and Safee Sali.

Guiza and del Nero were then replaced by Argentine striker Leonel Nunez and Brazilian midfielder Andrezinho in April.

Despite the star-studded squad, Fandi faced problems motivating the players to perform on the field, periodically blasting his charges in the media about their lack of fighting spirit.

His latest public outburst came after the 1-1 draw at home against Felda United last month.

He was quoted by Malaysian newspaper Sinar Harian as saying then: "They didn't have the mentality to win at all (and) the result was disappointing.

"We have shown consistency from the beginning of the season but towards the end, players are starting to create problems and it has affected the team.

"I am not pointing fingers at anyone, but they have to realise their mistakes and change their attitudes.

"How would you feel if you controlled the game but you could not score a goal?

"What I want the players to show that they want to play for the team."

Johor finished third in the recently-concluded league campaign, and lost 1-0 to Kelantan in the FA Cup final late last month.


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