Five MSL imports that need to step up or risk exit

The international break in March offers an opportunity for Malaysia Super League (MSL) teams to reassess their squad and fine tune things. These five imports must also use the opportunity to buck up or be sent packing when the transfer window opens in May. 

Gaston Cellerino

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Import strikers are not expected to struggle in front of goal in the MSL but for this Argentine, getting into the starting line-up itself has been a challenge.

The 30-year-old has yet to earn the trust of new Felda United coach B. Satiananthan but the former can’t possibly have a reason to complain.

The former Boca Juniors trainee has yet to score in the MSL despite being given several starts when the season begun in January. His appearances off the bench in recent weeks has been to inject fresh legs rather than bringing on a possible game changer.

Felda’s other striker Lucas Cano is also in the spotlight but his three goals in the league thus far could be his saving grace. He did, however, miss a penalty and later a sitter against Ceres in the AFC Cup.

Brian Ferreira

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Signed to replace Singaporean Hariss Harun in Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) Asian import quota, the Argentine-born Iraqi has been a bad piece of business thus far.

So much so that Ferreira is struggling to get ahead of the likes of Nazmi Faiz Mansor and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri in Benjamin Mora’s starting line-up.

Like Cellerino, Ferreira can’t complain about the lack of opportunity because he never took his chances when presented with them.

The Southern Tigers have already made one change this season after demoting Jeronimo Barrales to JDT II, with Gabriel Guerra moving the other direction and making an immediate impact.

JDT owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim has not hidden his intentions to make more changes to the squad in the coming window after a less-than-satisfactory start to the season.

With Gonzalo Cabrera, Guerra and Marcos Antonio all within Mora’s plan, it may just be a matter of time before Ferreira is ushered out.

Ilija Spasojevic

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Having scored 24 goals in the Malaysia Premier League to fire Malacca into the top-flight and win the golden boot, all eyes were on how Spasojevic would cope in the MSL.

Eight games into the season, it is safe to say the Montenegrin’s life in second tier last year was a lot easier.

The Hang Tuah captain has failed to find the back of the net since he scored in Malacca’s first match of the season.

There is talk of a fallout with Malaysia captain Amri Yahyah, who joined them at the start of the year, and dressing room morale is not at its best after a poor start under former Yangon United coach Eric Williams.