# Zainal hopes Ryan Johnson could fit the bill in search for a striker
Former Jamaican international Ryan Johnson is in town and hopes to become the second Major Soccer League player to don Penang colours in the Malaysian League.
The 33-year-old has been in Georgetown since Friday and head coach Zainal Abidin Hassan will put him to trials soon after Johnson was put to gym workouts since his arrival.
Days earlier Penang signed up tough tackling Nigerian Ugochukwu Ukah to beef up the backline. Ukah is no newcomer to the Malaysian League having played for Selangor the last two seasons.
Ukha, also, 33, has good knowledge of the demands of M-League and cup competitions although he had his ups and downs with the Red Giants during his two-year stint – including a head butt with a teammate during a match against Sarawak in Kuching.
“Johnson arrived in Penang on Friday but he has only done “physical training” indoors since his arrival. I will try him out on the field soon,” said Zainal from Penang.
Penang, relegated to the lower-tier Premier League after finishing last in the 12-team Super League last season, failed to qualify for the Malaysia Cup and in the FA Cup were knocked out in the third round.
Zainal has set a top two target for the team in the Premier League and has not given up on winning one of two cups at stake.
The Panthers are national have lost some of their best football talent, including national Under-23 players Jafri Firdaus Chew and Syamel Kutty Abba.
Jafri, together with Faizat Ghazli have moved to Super League’s PKNS FC while Syamel has moved south to join four-time Malaysian Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT). Another who has moved is Rafiuddin Rodin who is now with Perak.
“Ukah will tighten things up at the back and I hope Johnson fits the bill in my search for a hitman,” said Zainal.
If Johnson comes aboard he will be the second MSL player after Sanna Nyassi, a Gambian international, in the team. Nyassi, 28, a winger, has been retained by Penang for the new season.
Among the experienced hands who have joined the Panthers are former internationals Norhafiz Zamani (defender) and Al Hafiz Hamzah (goalkeeper). Others include Jasazrin Jamaluddin and Raimi Mohd Noor.
Also in the team is youngster K. Thivandran from the national Under-23 squad and former international defender Yong Kuong Yong, who has a wealth of experience in the M-League, having played for Kuala Lumpur, Felda United, Perak and Terengganu before joining Penang last year.BY RIZAL ABDULLAH