Teams opt for early start

Paulo Rangel.

EVEN before the Malaysia Cup ended, some Malaysian league teams have already prepared their roster for next season.

Pahang and Kelantan were fighting it out last week in the Malaysia Cup final but rumours swirled around that most of the players in the match will leave their club next season.

Looking at tweets from Twitter and status updates from Facebook, I was fascinated. The transfer rumour frenzy started last season but for next season's challenge, it has gone on overdrive.

The last time I wrote about M-League transfers, it was just rumours. This time, most of the transfers have been confirmed by the clubs.

One particular team that hogged the headlines is Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) FC. Tengku Mahkota of Johor has certainly done a lot to revive football in Johor.

Last season, he signed few national players and also former European stars like Daniel Guiza and Simone Del Nero.

Next season, the team will be formidable as rumours say that TMJ has signed many M-League stars.

Here are some of the names - Norazlan Razali, Mahali Jasuli, Mohd Fadhli Shas, Irfan Fazail, Nazrin Nawi, Norfarhan Mohammad and Amri Yahyah.

Isn't mouthwatering? Wait there is more.The three confirmed foreign players are Pablo Aimar from Argentina, Braulio Rodriguez from Spain and Hariss Harun from Singapore.

For the national lads, JDT have confirmed the signing of Irfan, Fadhli and Nazrin, as for the others, an insider said that it's almost 90% complete.

Led by experienced Spanish manager Cesar Ferrando Jimenez, JDT will surely be the favourites for the Super League with such a squad.

Kelantan's president Tan Sri Annuar Musa have announced that several stalwarts have left the Red Warriors for new clubs.

Norfarhan, Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Izuan Solahuddin, S.Subramaniam, and Azizi Mat Rose have left the club and according to Annuar, he has brought in replacements.

However, the biggest signing for them will be their captain, Badhri Radhzi. The 31-year-old playmaker has renewed his contract with the FA Cup champions.

Losing him will be a big blow and Kelantan has done a great job by keeping the inspirational player. He was eyed by clubs like PDRM and JDT.

Annuar in his Facebook page said that they've signed two former golden boot winners from the Malaysian league and another league while they're still negotiating with another former M-League top scorer.

Some have also said that ATM centre-back Amiridzwan Taj Tajuddin has signed for his boyhood club but the 27-year-old said that nothing has been confirmed yet.

"I've got six offers and my future is undecided yet. Nothing has been confirmed," said the defender who has had a brilliant season with ATM and also with the national team.

Relegated side, Felda United is opting experience for next season's Premier League challenge. They've signed Irfan Bakti as their head coach and also signed Kelantan's winger Indra Putra Mahayuddin.

Insiders have also said that they're close to signing ATM duo Mohd Shukor Adan and goalkeeper Farizal Harun and Irfan will look to bring some players from former club, Selangor.

32-times Malaysia Cup champions Selangor have also signed new players to mount a strong challenge for next season.

They've opted for 'Samba' flavour this season by signing Juninho and Paulo Rangel.

This is not the free kick marvel or Middlesbrough legend. Junior Aparecido Guimaro de Souza (Thank god he shortened it to Juninho) has etched a name for himself in the Thai League and at the age of 24, he is at his peak.

The former Muangthong United and TOT SC playmaker will surely provide ammunition for fellow Brazilian, Rangel who last played for Perak last season.

The other foreign spot is still being decided by new manager Mehmet Durakovic and some have said that former Fulham and Norwich City defender Adrien Leijer might sign for them.

26-year-old Leijer worked with Durakovic in Melbourne Victory and if he joins the Red Giants, Selangor will surely benefit from this combination.

Replacing Norazlan Razali is no easy feat but Selangor have already replaced him with another experienced keeper in the form of Farizal Marlias.

They've also signed veteran keeper Hamsani Ahmad, Kelantan's libero Rizal Fahmi Rosid, Harimau Muda forwards, A.Thamil Arasu and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri and left-back Azmi Muslim.

They're still searching for the right players for their side but even with these players, they are capable of challenging the likes of JDT and Kelantan.

As for my hometown side, they've just formed a new management and Abu Bakar Fadzim has replaced Azraai Khor Abdullah as the new head coach.

Perak's new manager, Datuk Azhar Ahmad is on the lookout for new players and have earmarked Pahang's midfielder Hafiz Kamal to improve the team's midfield.

As for foreign players, according to insider in Perak itself, the team is looking to sign a Myanmmar international, Syrian international and also a Ghanaian international.

When I asked for names, they didn't disclose but he said an announcement will be made as soon as possible. Losing Rangel was a big blow thus the club will want to bring in the best players for their glory hungry fans.

In the next two weeks, most teams will have their full squad and start pre-season practice for next season's challenge.

I'm looking forward to seeing sides like JDT FC, Selangor, Kelantan and ATM perform but my only wish is to see Perak coming back from the doldrums and perform well next season.
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