BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Today is literally the last day of the decade, but Malaysian clubs are still signing players noticed through less-than-reliable methods.
They would do well to heed the advice of experienced Malaysian coach Ismail Zakaria.
In an interview with the Malaysian Football League (MFL), the trainer spoke of the importance of more-involved scouting approaches.
As the head coach of the now-defunct Sime Darby FC from 2010 to 2015, he had been instrumental in introducing several talented foreign players into the country, such as Patrick Ronaldinho, Karlo Primorac and Dilshod Sharofetdinov.
"My advise to teams that want to avoid having a big wage bill, they must not rely too much on player agents. At Sime Darby, I personally flew to Liberia to observe players in the country, and spent 10 days to observe Patrick [Ronaldinho]. Not only his monthly wage no more than USD7,000 (RM28,650), but he was also a Liberia international.
"Before signing Primorac, I spent eight days in Croatia to watch him play, and his wage was suitable with the club's budget.
"I then began negotiations without the involvement of middle men, while the huge options of players available there allowed me to look at the good ones. If I had used the service of agents, the options would have been limited while the cost would have been higher," recalled Ismail.
He also advised teams to plan their trip and signings ahead of time, in order to avoid rushing into decisions.
"These teams should have their own technical director who can make the journey, or the head coach himself can travel. Not many need to travel, in order to reduce the cost.
"They can undertake their own observation and if the club plans well for it after the season ends, they would minimise the risk of signing flops. But if they rush into things or leave things until late, they run the risk of overspending and signing unsuitable players.
"The era of ECP (Economic Control Programme) is upon us, teams definitely need to spend more cautiously. They need to do more research on the foreign and local players that they want to sign," explained the former UiTM FC boss.
Having ended their 2019 Premier League campaign in fifth place, Ismail's UiTM were recently granted promotion to the Super League due to PKNP FC's takeover by Perak as the latter's feeder team. But Ismail will not be leading the university side in their first ever season in the top tier, as he reportedly resigned from the position due to disagreements over budget and signing parameters.
The Shah Alam-based club in the meantime has been observed being led by former Malaysia U-23 head coach Frank Bernhardt in pre-season matches.
It seems that Pulau Pinang (!) have revealed former Malaysia U-23 head coach Frank Bernhardt as Malaysia Super League debutant UiTM FC's boss. pic.twitter.com/KTaWlQRGXI— Zulhilmi Zainal (@zulhilmibzainal) December 22, 2019
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