Bojan Hodak was spotted in the stands at Larkin Stadium during JDT’s Super League match against Selangor last Saturday, prompting rumours that he will replace Cesar Jimenez.
ALOR SETAR: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) coach Cesar Jimenez is not keen to answer questions regarding his future with the high-spending club side.
Speculation over the Spaniard’s position with the Southern Tigers arose after former Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak was spotted in the stands at Larkin Stadium during JDT’s Super League match against Selangor last Saturday.
Jimenez did not confirm nor deny rumours that Hodak is being lined up by JDT as his replacement when the question was put to him following JDT’s 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final second-leg win over Kedah at the Darulaman Stadium on Tuesday.
Second half goals by national strikers Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (65th) and Safee Sali (84th) allowed last year’s runners-up JDT to progress to the last four with a 5-1 aggregate.
“I work for Johor. I don’t want to talk about others. I am a professional coach and to me, the team comes first,” said Jimenez.
“There are a lot of things more important than the coach. The most important thing for me is to improve the team, and not discussing my future.”
With the Super League taking a three-week break to accommodate the national team’s assignment, JDT’s quarter-final victory over Kedah may well be Jimenez’s last game in charge.
But the wily coach, who has a chequered resume including being in charge of famed Spanish Premier League side Valencia, refused to be drawn into making statements regarding his future.
“I don’t want to create any problem, for Johor or anybody (else). If anyone doesn’t like my work, I have no problem with it.
“I am very happy with what I have done during my time with JDT, I am happy with the supporters and I am happy with my president. I don’t wish to upset anyone because I like to work (in a) happy (environment),” added the Spaniard.
If Jimenez is removed as coach, the fate of his backroom staff also hangs in the balance. The 55-year-old has three compatriots working with him at JDT – tactical coach Andres Tevar, fitness coach Jaime Olivares and goalkeeper’s coach Angel Zorita.
Jimenez also had a direct involvement in what is now termed the “tunnel fracas” during the half-time of the FA Cup second-round match against T-Team at the Larkin Stadium on Feb 1.
The JDT coach had lodged a police report claiming he was assaulted by T-Team player Evaldo Goncalves and fitness coach Stefano Impagliazzo.
Despite splashing the cash to bring in star players, JDT have had a mixed start to the season.
In additon to progressing to the FA Cup semi-finals, the Southern Tigers have won only two of their five Super League matches so far.
They are now sixth in the 12-team league standings.
But Jimenez believes that his team are finally living up to their pre-season promise.
Said the coach: “We are improving as a team in every game. Against Kedah, the home team came out very strongly but my team were patient and played well. It is not important who scores the goals as long as the team wins comfortably.”