# JDT on course for their fifth straight Super League title

# N. Sembilan set for the plunge after 2-1 defeat to Kedah

Johor Darul Takzim’s new signing Harry Novillo made a memorable debut in the Malaysian Super League with a goal in his team’s 2-2 draw against Selangor in Cheras on Saturday – earning a valuable point as the Southers Tigers stayed on course for their fifth league title.

However, it was a different a losing debut for Negri Sembilan’s new Portuguese coach Mario Lemos as the Deer plunged deeper into relegation following a 2-1 home defeat at Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi.

JDT’s draw kept them at the top of the table with 25 points after 10 matches – five more than second-placed Perak while Negri prop-up the table with only five points derived from a win and two draws from the same number of matches.

Novillo has promised to be in the “thick of action” to deliver for the best team in the Malaysian League. “I will be better as I get more matches,” said the former Lyon player.

But for Lemos, things are not likely to change for his new team is doomed if he does not pull off a “miracle” in the next four matches or he would probably the next victim and follow his predecessor Azraai Khor Abdullah who was fired after five matches and less than two months on the job after taking over from German Jorg Steinebrunner.

FAs need to be reminded that you just cannot have a new coach after a few matches. This is absurd (changing a coach for not getting a win in five matches in Azraai’s case).

Negri Sembilan FA (NSFA) forgot that Azraai was hired and given till the end of the year to turn things around for the team.

A coach must be given a stretch of at least one or two years to achieve or bring in the desired results. Success does not come overnight. However, in Malaysia, it is a different “culture” where a coach is not a “success” if he does not win matches.

In the past and even now there are always the “hidden hands” who are behind the hiring of foreign coaches and players. Azraai’s case is a classic example. He had no inkling of the “sack” as he was in the midst of identifying the players he needed to plug the loopholes in the team.

NSFA president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan was quoted as saying there are “rats” in the coalition in the state after the ruling Barisan Nasional government was defeated in the recent 14th General Election.

Probably there are also “rats” in the association who help themselves and take advantage of the opportunities that are plenty because of their status and position in the management of the team and blame others in defeat.

The NSFA vice-president Datuk Mohamad Haslah Mohd Amin, who is also the team manager hired Lemos plus two new foreigners, Spanish-born striker Angel Guirado and Brazilian centre-back Alex Moraes without his knowledge. The third new signing in the team during the second transfer window David Rowley, a utility player.

It is time for a thorough cleaning in the NSFA for Negri football to come out of the doldrums. – RIZAL ABDULLAH 

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