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Felda United Preview: Expectations remain high under rookie coach

Azmi Mohamed admits he doesn’t have bags of experience when it comes to being a head coach, but he feels he has a good squad and is capable of meeting Felda United’s one trophy target in 2017.

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There were plenty of surprises when the Fighters decided to install Azmi in the hot seat for their 2017 Malaysia Super League (MSL) campaign.

Felda were expected to attract a big-name coach as Irfan Bakti Abu Salim’s replacement, but turned isntead to the 50-year-old Azmi, who’s only real coaching highlight previously was a caretaker post at Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in 2013.

I don’t expect any problems in the players getting accustomed to my system or style of play

- Azmi Mohamed

Azmi was quick to admit he could be considered “young” in coaching terms, but he insisted the expectations of him were the same as they would have been for anyone, and he intends to deliver.

“Although I am new here and could be considered young in coaching, the key performance index set on this team and me remains high … that is winning at least one trophy,” said Azmi.

“I believe I can build Felda with this squad at my disposal. We need to get the players to click and that is something we’ve been doing in training.

“The local players are already coming together and gelling well, but now we need to blend the imports, most of whom just arrived this week. I don’t expect any problems in the players getting accustomed to my system or style of play.”

Felda's squad for the coming season

Azmi has had his hands full building a squad after several players decided to find new teams.

Among those Felda will miss are Christie Jayaseelan, Ahmad Syamim Yahya, Lutfulla Turaev and Francis Forkey Doe, but Azmi feels the club has done well in finding replacements.

Skipper Shukor Adan, who was impeccable in 2016, and Liberian midfield maestro Zah Rahan Krangar are still on the books.

There is enough players to compete in all competitions … we have many young players who have bags of energy in them

“We have got our replacements so I feel the squad have gained its balance again. Hadin Azman is staying too,” said Azmi.

“The likes of Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor, Fakrul Aiman Sidid and new imports – Gaston Cellerino and Lucas Cano – give us a few options.

“I reckon I have enough depth.”

The 2016 MSL runners-up will also compete in the AFC Cup due to JDT’s league and FA Cup double last year.

JDT have impressed in the continental competition, but Malaysian teams have generally struggled in recent years due to a lack of depth. Selangor bowed out of the group stage last year, while Pahang reached the quarter-finals in 2015.

“There is enough players to compete in all competitions … we have many young players who have bags of energy in them. We will need to tap on that when the fixtures list gets tight,” he said.

“The AFC Cup is also important. We’ll do our best and target the knockout rounds first, before thinking of the later rounds.”

Photos: Felda United