Coach profile: Rahmad Darmawan, T-Team

Former Indonesia international Rahmad Darmawan is telling his players to target a top-five finish in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) despite initially preparing for life in the second tier.

When Rahmad joined T-Team and started planning his squad for the 2016 season, it was for the second-tier Malaysia Premier League (MPL).

A couple of weeks in, one late night towards the end of November, Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) offered T-Team and ATM a lifeline after booting out LionsXII out of Malaysian football.

Rahmad labelled the playoff, which T-Team won 2-1 on January 30, a blessing but called his players to dream big in 2016 despite many expecting the Titans to battle relegation.

“The reality is we prepared this team for the MPL but two weeks into my arrival, we got very good news and fortunately we used of the promotion opportunity,” Rahmad told FourFourTwo.

“As a coach I cannot possibly be content in merely making the numbers in top flight. We must find an ideal level and stay in the MSL.

“It will require a lot of spirit and hard work. It is important to set a target as it provides a motivation, even if it is a high one. My target is to be a top five team.

I cannot possibly be content in merely making the numbers in top flight. We must find an ideal level and stay in the MSL.

“The players are getting better in training but I have not found the stability yet. Some of these players can play well against MPL teams but we saw how different it was in the playoff. Some need time.

Rahmad was previously coaching Persija Jakarta but decided to move after FIFA handed Indonesia a blanket ban following governmental interference.

FourFourTwo understands the issue is far from being resolved and a government-arm sports agency is in the midst of putting together an unsanctioned domestic league.

Rahmad previously coached Indonesia to two silver medals at the 2011 and 2013 Southeast Asia Games and was voted the Indonesia Cup best coach in 2009 after guiding Sriwijaya to back-to-back Cup success. Sriwijaya won the Cup for the third time running in 2010.

The 49-year-old is also no stranger to Malaysian football, having played for ATM in the early 1990s.

Having spent over two months at the T-Team already, Rahmad feels he only has to fine tune the squad as former coach Tomislav Steinbruckner had already instilled some good tactics.

“Of course time is always needed for the players to adapt to a new coach and vice versa. There is not much difference in the playing philosophy I require from what this team did with the former coach,” said Rahmad.

“The players are tactically aware thanks to the previous coach and I just need to make some slight adjustments here and there. I’m still seeing if we need a new foreign player. I wasn’t totally convinced against ATM the other day.”