Malaysia's foreign gaffers: Five of the most successful imported MSL coaches

A significant number of Malaysia Super League (MSL) titles have won by foreign coaches, most of whom had excellent squads at their disposal. FourFourTwo takes a look at five of the most successful foreign coaches in Malaysia since the MSL’s inception in 2004.

BOJAN HODAK

The Croatian arrived in Malaysia over a decade ago and joined his first professional club, UPB MyTeam, in 2006.

He took MyTeam to the top flight after finishing runners-up in the 2006/07 Malaysia Premier League (MPL) season and later had spells with Cambodian club Phnom Penh Crown and Chinese side Shandong Luneng as an assistant before a successful return to Malaysia in 2012.

The Southern Tigers won their first MSL title and finished runners-up in the Malaysia Cup

Hodak joined Kelantan after Peter Butler was sacked early into the 2012 season and led the Red Warriors to a treble of the MSL, FA Cup and Malaysia Cup.

He won the FA Cup again the following year and finished runners-up in the Malaysia Cup but left at the end of the season after failing to agree new terms.

Hodak joined Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in 2014, again after the season had already started, and blessed with a star-studded squad he guided the Southern Tigers to their first MSL title and a runner-up finish in the Malaysia Cup.

But he was sacked by the club midway through the following season.

He had a short stint as Penang chief executive in 2016 and was appointed as Malaysia Under-19 coach in August this year. 

MARIO GOMEZ

Once an assistant to Hector Cuper at Spanish side Valencia and Italian club Inter Milan, Gomez's first foray into Asia was during his stint at Hong Kong’s South China in December 2014.

He was then announced as Hodak’s replacement at JDT in April 2015.

Gomez's appointment was an unexpected one but it paid off

The move turned out to be a masterstroke as JDT retained the MSL and Gomez steered the Southern Tigers to the coveted AFC Cup, becoming the first Southeast Asian side to win the trophy.

Gomez won the FA Cup and a second MSL title the following year – the club’s third in a row – but parted ways with the club days before the start of the 2017 season, with JDT saying they needed a new coach to take them a step higher.

Gomez did not become Malaysia coach as the FAM opted for Nelo Vingada

Gomez was announced as Malaysia coach when JDT owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim became Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president in March.

It later emerged that both parties had yet to put pen to paper and Tunku Ismail accused Gomez of demanding more money, which the Argentine denied.

The move collapsed as FAM opted instead for Portuguese Nelo Vingada.

MEHMET DURAKOVIC

The Australian was no stranger to the scene when Selangor unveiled him as their new coach in 2014.

Durakovic was considered a club legend by the Red Giants’ faithful after famously winning the Malaysia Cup three times between 1995 and 1997 as a player. He was also club captain.

Durakovic was beloved at Selangor as a player and coach

His first season in the MSL drew criticism for Selangor’s defensive play but they managed to finished runners-up to JDT by only three points. Selangor had the best defence in the league too. 

Selangor finished runners-up again in 2015, thanks to Pahang being deducted six points by FIFA, and this time they were the joint-highest scoring side with the Elephants.

Durakovic was often spotted at Selangor games before joining Perak in February 2017

Durakovic ended the season on top after winning the Malaysia Cup – a record-extending 33rd trophy for the Red Giants.

However, he was sacked as coach after the Cup win as Selangor management had already quietly lined-up Zainal Abidin Hassan as replacement even before the Malaysia Cup knock-out stages.

It incurred the wrath of the fans, but the management stood firm with their decision.

He stayed in Malaysia and was often spotted at Selangor games in 2016 before joining Perak in February 2017.

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