Darren Goon takes a look at the current imports of the local teams competing in next year’s Malaysian Super League – and if they're worth keeping for another season…
Johor Darul Ta’zim
Who should stay?
Despite having claimed that he’d retire at the club about a year ago, JDT need to hold on to Luciano Figueroa with everything they’ve got. There was initial concern that their shiny-domed Argentine would be replaced after he missed six matches earlier in the season, but he bounced back and hit a purple patch, notching eight goals in the final eight league games as JDT overtook Pahang to defend their league title.
Marcos Antonio, who has been named FourFourTwo’s Defender of the Season, is another who’s likely to stick around down south next campaign. Only Safiq Rahim and S. Kunanlan played more league matches than the Brazilian defender, underlying his importance to a side that kept nine clean sheets, the most in the MSL.
Who will need to prove themselves?
Hariss Harun is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in Southeast Asia, but the Singaporean's campaign was interrupted by injury. With Gary Steven Robbat and Jasazrin Jamaluddin taking advantage to stake their claim for a starting spot in central midfield, Hariss played the full 90 minutes just thrice in the final seven league games upon his return. The Malaysia Cup will provide an opportunity for him to prove that he’s injury-free and ready to dominate again.
JDT’s second Argentine, Patricio Rodriguez, was signed in April as a direct replacement for compatriot Jorge Pereyra Diaz. The 25-year-old started with a bang, contributing two assists to help his team come from behind to edge ATM 2-1, but his league campaign lasted only six more matches before an errant tackle by Vincent Bikana ruled him out for three months. Despite his youth, the harsh reality of football means that JDT cannot afford to retain a player that spends most of the season off the pitch.