GEORGE TOWN: The Football Association of Penang (FAP) have bowed to the pressure from the Penang fans to have coach Jacksen Tiago ‘rested’.
The FAP relieved Tiago of his duties on Wednesday following an emergency meeting. The Brazilian’s assistant, Manzoor Azwira, a former Penang captain, has been promoted to the hot seat.
FAP deputy president Laurence Loh has also stepped down as the team’s pro-committee chairman after taking responsibility for the Panthers’ dismal recent results.
Things came to a boil after a group of about 200 Penang supporters assembled to protest in front of the City Stadium main foyer entrance following the islanders’ 2-1 Super League defeat to Sarawak on Tuesday.
The supporters let off flares and chanted for the removal of Tiago, whom they felt made wrong selection and tactical choices.
In the presence of police personnel, two representatives of the supporters group held a closed door meeting with several members of the team management, including Laurence and FAP vice-presidents Datuk Gary Nair and Mohd Azizudin Shariff, while the Penang players and officials were ushered out of the stadium through a side exit under the protection of security personnel.
The crowd only dispersed at 12.20am after Gary came out of the stadium to address them.
“We (FAP) are aware of the team’s current situation ... we understand the supporters’ frustration,” said Gary.
“We will take the necessary measures for the best interest of the team and to ensure our performances and results improve.”
Against Sarawak, Penang had the better chances, but contrived to lose after a Matias Cordoba penalty miss and conceding a 93rd-minute goal.
Argentine Cordoba put the Panthers ahead in the 26th minute, but Gilmar Filho (59th) and J. Partiban (93rd) hit back for the Crocs’ first win of the campaign.
Tiago has gone from hero to zero in the eyes of the Penang supporters in a matter of months. Last year, the former Indonesian national coach guided Penang to Super League promotion with a second placing in the second-tier Premier League.
But grouses against the Brazilian started over his selection of import players for this year.
FAP had to fork out a hefty sum to pay off Brazilian striker Jose Tadeu, a Tiago pick, even before the league began after he turned out to be a dud purchase.
His replacement Osas Ikpefua of Nigeria has also been less than impressive thus far.
“If you ask me what I could have done better (against Sarawak), I don’t know,” said Tiago prior to being relieved of his duties.
“We did everything correctly, except score. It wasn’t just the penalty miss which cost us, but other clear chances as well.”
Tuesday’s defeat left Penang in ninth position in the 12-team Super League standings. The Panthers have won only one of their first six Super League matches and crashed out of the FA Cup after losing to Premier League side Kuantan FA in the first round.
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