Brazilian import Eliel da Cruz Guardiano (right) has had his contract terminated by Perak. - Filepic
GEORGE TOWN: Super League basement side Perak have turned to Bulgarian Velizar Popov for help to escape relegation.
The former New Radiant of Maldives coach has been roped in to help prevent Perak from dropping out of the top flight for the first time in their history.
Popov will work with current coach Abu Bakar Fadzim, who is still retained in Perak’s coaching set-up.
Perak face a herculean task to beat the drop as they are a massive eight points away from safety. With 10 games remaining, they are anchored to the bottom of the standings with seven points.
“Perak are in a critical position and it will need a miracle to keep us in the Super League next season,” admitted Popov. “I believe this is the biggest challenge that I have faced throughout my career and I am looking forward to help Perak rise again.”
Team manager Datuk Azhar Ahmad said that bringing in Popov was necessary to inject more experience and creativity in planning tactics for the remaining matches.
Nothing much has gone right for Perak this season as they have won only two out of their 12 league matches.
To make matters worse, Perak were docked a point by the FAM competitions committee last week for fielding an ineligible player during their 1-1 draw against T-Team on March 22.
Popov’s first task will be to lead the youthful Perak side to face star-studded Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in Ipoh on Tuesday night.
He can turn to new strikers Milan Purovic of Montenegro and Abdulafees Abdulsalam of Nigeria for help to end Perak’s goalscoring woes this season.
Perak have scored a measly four goals in 12 matches, the lowest among the 12 teams.
Purovic and Abdulsalam are the seventh and eighth import players to be used by Perak this season.
The silver state have already terminated the contracts of Zelemir Terkes (Bosnia), Eliel da Cruz (Brazil), Martin Kafando (Burkina Faso) and Imad Ghaddar (Lebanon) this year.
Ghaddar’s contract was ended just four days after signing on for Perak after the Lebanese refused to play in the 0-1 defeat to Selangor on April 5.
Besides Purovic and Abdulsalam, the other two foreigners in the Perak squad are defender Hassan Daher of Lebanon and midfielder Kyaw Zahar Win of Myanmar.