Mat Zan fumes at 'ungrateful' Malacca and Sime Darby disbanded: FFT's MPL Review

There was plenty of drama on the final matchday of the Malaysia Premier League (MPL) on Saturday, with coaches released, clubs relegated and consecutive promotions. Hardeep S. analyses...

Overall

Malacca capped their fine season by sealing back-to-back promotions, just a year after lifting the third-tier FAM Cup.

With a budget of RM9 million, Malacca enjoyed good support from supporters for home and away matches, and they overcame several fancied clubs to lift the Malaysian Premier League (MPL) with 50 points from 22 games.

Joining them in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) next year is PKNS, who took second spot following the 2-0 win over Kuala Lumpur on the final day of the season last weekend to end with 48 points.

The over-ambitious Malacca, unfortunately, have no place for their coach Mat Zan Mat Aris for the new season.

Despite meeting all targets set by the management, Mat Zan has not been offered a contract extension.

Photo: Malacca United

Although his contract had expired in August, the former international was still coaching the team in September and October, which the management promptly paid his salary for both months.

The Football Association of Malacca (MFA) is expected to wield the axe on several coaches and players in a scheduled meeting tomorrow.

A bemused Mat Zan feels unappreciated and he told FourFourTwo that he will not attend the meeting.

“If MFA had plans for me, they would have spoken to me months ago. Frankly, I did not want to be on the bench in the 1-1 draw with Sime Darby yesterday but I did so out of respect for the fans and management,” said Mat Zan.

“I feel unappreciated. I was also sad when MFA made statements in the newspapers over their plans to beef up the team with new coaches and players for the MSL.

“Am I not good enough to coach Malacca? I tried to talk to MFA officials over my contract extension but they avoided me since August.

“Even if MFA makes a U-turn, I will not take up the offer. They have no gratitude and I do not want to continue as I am already speaking to several teams for the new season.”

It has been learnt that national coach Ong Kim Swee and former Felda United trainer Irfan Bakti Abu Salim are among the candidates for Malacca’s top job next season.

“When I took up the job last year, Malacca were languishing in their fifth season in the FAM Cup,” Mat Zan continued. “I signed some good players and we won the title and the promotion.

“This year, we managed to signed several quality foreigners and locals, and we won the MPL and also earn the promotion. I do not see myself as a failure.

“I took the risk and put my reputation on the line when I took the job to coach Malacca last year. They were nothing then…and now they do not need me anymore.

PKNS secured promotion back to the top-flight alongside Malacca

“Throughout my coaching career, I have never failed a team,” added the man who took Terengganu to their first Malaysia Cup crown in 2001.

As for PKNS, coach E.Elavarasan has still undecided whether to extend his contract with the club for the new MSL season, with his deal expiring in December.

“I think we did very well considering the budget we had this season. I maintained the core from last season and had very good foreigners,” the trainer told reporters.

“Argentines Juan Cobelli, Gabriel Guerra and Gonzalo Soto along with Chile-born Matias Hadwa were the key to our success.

“I do not want to take my time and consider everything before penning a new contract. But of course, I need to decide soon,” said Elavarasan, who also guided PKNS to the FA Cup final this year.

It is learnt that if Elavarasan continues, he will beef up his squad with five quality local signings. But he could have a headache as Liberian Patrick Wleh, who is currently on loan to Selangor, will return to PKNS next season.

The coach needs to drop one foreigner from the existing squad to accommodate Wleh.

Relegated

Former FA Cup finallists Sime Darby failed to shine following the management’s decision to reduce the budget. The club finished bottom of the table with only two wins to show in the league.

It has been learnt that Sime Darby, who will return to the FAM Cup next season, will be disbanded.

Former Malaysia Cup finalists ATM were relegated on the final day of the MPL following a 3-2 defeat to Perlis.

Poor Sime Darby, only last season playing in the MSL, suffered double relegation and will be disbanded

ATM hired former Johor FC coach Azuan Zain and started the season without foreigners. Azuan left in June as his contract was not renewed, and his position was taken over by army official Azhar Abdullah.

ATM did hire foreigners from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for the second half of the season but they could not do much as other members of the squad were mostly made up of inexperience army personnel.

Top scorers

Malacca captain Ilija Spasojevic won the Golden Boot with 24 goals. The Montenegrin could have added more to his tally had he not broken his left arm in August.

Spasojevic is a cult hero in Malacca and the 29-year-old, who speaks fluent Bahasa Indonesia, has another year on his contract with the club.

Journeyman Paolo Rangel, who has never stayed with a team for more than one season since he joined Perak in 2013, was the second highest scorer in the MPL with 21 goals for JDT II.

Rangel was on fire for JDT II this season. Photo: Twitter

The Brazilian striker is now on a lookout for a new club as he has been released by the club. The 31-years-old was initially signed to play for Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) early this year but coach Mario Gomez was unhappy with his form and thus relegated him to JDT II.

Spasojevic and Rangel hold distinctions of scoring four goals each in a single match for their respective clubs in the freshly-concluded season.

Croatian Ivan Babic take the honours as the third highest scorer with 16 goals for DRB-Hicom

Kuantan FA striker Abdul Malik Mat Ariff emerged as the top scorer among local players with 10 goals. Despite his scoring rate, the 25-year-old has yet to be called up for trials with the national team.

JDT II striker Zaquan Adha Radzak was the next highest scorer among locals with seven goals. The national trainee has parted ways with the Johor-side and is now being linked to Selangor for the new season. 

Main photo: mstar.com.my