THE Sungai Ara FC side may be dotted with young and raw talents but it has not stopped their newly acquired Moroccan coach Merzagua Abdul Razak from seeing them as champion material.
The Moroccan ace is already a household name in Penang football due to his previous stint as Panthers player and coach.
He has openly declared the FAM Cup League crown as his target, this time with Sungai Ara FC.
Merzagua is ready to repeat what he did with the Panthers when he transformed them into runaway FAM Cup League champs in 2013.
The task ahead will be filled with challenges as Sungai Ara FC struggled in their debut at the FAM Cup League challenge last season.
Retaining only two players who served Sungai Ara FC so diligently last year, Merzagua has injected his Sungai Ara outfit with promising young talents instead.
“I always feel confident working with young talents,” said Merzagua after his charges were handed a 5-1 beating by Super League outfit Kelantan in a friendly match at the City Stadium recently.
“The result may make us look bad at the moment but I have no complaints as far as our performances are concerned.
“Although Kelantan was powered by a full grid of foreign signings like Cameroon striker Emmanuel (Kenmogne), Colombian Erwin (Alberiro Carillo Fragozo), Liberian Pupo (Isaac) and Australian defender Jonathan (David McKain), we still managed to hold our own for long spells.
“I am confident this defeat will not pose a problem as we have about a month more for my young players to polish up their act,” he said.
“It is always easier to work with young players.
“They are not only filled with enthusiasm but certainly learn things faster than the more experienced senior players.
“With good support from the team management, particularly Zainol (Abidin Ahmad), both morally and financially, I am confident we will be a lot different when the League kicks off.”
Merzagua’s confidence is also built around the fact that his young charges have responded well to his guidance and have improved tremendously since he took over the team on his return to Penang last month.
He is fondly known in the Penang football fraternity as ‘The Great Merz’, thanks to his mesmerising skills while donning Penang colours in the late 1990s.
The 47-year-old Moroccan is best remembered as the man who so sensationally led Penang football out of doldrums when he returned as coach in the 2013 season and a year later, Penang was back in Premier League action.
Only the absence of the all- important ‘A’ licence, a requirement by the FA of Malaysia (FAM) for coaches of league teams, forced Merzagua to part ways with the Panthers.
He surrendered his coaching post to K. Devan.
Now, with his new licence in hand, the Moroccan is ready to stir up another storm in the FAM Cup League, a third-tier championship in the Malaysian football scene.
The league is expected to kick off at the end of next month.