By K. RAJAN
PETALING JAYA: Former Johor striker Abbas Saad has lauded Johor FA president Tengku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim for trying to breathe new life into Johor football.
Abbas played for Johor in the early 90s, helping them to the Malaysia Cup and League double in 1991.
He was also the top scorer with 21 goals that year.
“I have to hand it to TMJ for attempting to revive Johor football,” said the former Australian international.
“He (TMJ) has brought in some quality signings, including world class foreigners and top local talents. I believe Johor have a strong team to challenge on all fronts this season.”
The Australian said he could still remember how Johor used to rule the roost back in the 90s, especially the double-winning 1991 squad under Australian coach Michael Urukalo.
Johor’s class of ’91 were a formidable side, with top foreigners like Ervin Boban, Alistair Edwards and Abbas while the locals comprised talented players like Nasir Yusof, Khalid Shahdan, Annuar Abu Bakar, Sazali Nasir and Hassan Miskam.
“We were a phenomenal side back then … we had seven attacking players on the pitch and we always played attacking football,” said Abbas.
“We always won with big scores and played entertaining football with an attitude … we had sell-out crowd every week.”
Johor’s Super League side – Johor Darul Takzim (JDT), formerly known as Johor FC – have snapped up Italian midfielder Simone Del Nero and former Spanish international Daniel Guiza for this season’s challenge.
JDT, coached by former Singapore international Fandi Ahmad, have also signed up national players Safiq Rahim, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Safee Sali, Azmi Muslim, Muslim Ahmad and the Razak twins of Aidil Zafuan and Zaquan Adha.
Abbas, who is now a football pundit with Astro, however warned the star-studded JDT to be wary of the high expectations from fans and the management.
“I hope the new team can emulate our achievement. The team is new and have not accomplished anything yet but the pressure will be on them,” said Abbas.
“The team have to perform … they are being paid big salary. The foreign players must show that they are worthy of the huge pay cheque. The locals too need to step up.
“I was a part of Johor’s success in the past … I really hope to see Johor become a top side again.”
JDT will begin their Super League campaign against promoted side Pahang at the Darul Makmur Stadium tonight.
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- Abbas Saad – Astro Supersport in-house pundit and ex-Australia, Singapore and Johor striker
- Expert’s Tips – By Abbas Saad, former Johor, Singapore, Australia striker