GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Super League team’s new chief executive officer (CEO) Bojan Hodak believes that the islanders’ inexperience in handling the pressures of playing in the top flight is the main reason for their current predicament.
The former Kelantan and JDT coach Hodak and his Croatian compatriot Nenad Bacina were unveiled as the Penang team’s CEO and manager respectively at a press conference on Wednesday.
The Football Association of Penang (FAP) took the drastic move to disassociate themselves from the day-to-day running of the Super League team following the Panthers’ failure to qualify for the Malaysia Cup.
Penang, who were promoted to the Super League this year, are bottom of the 12-team top flight standings with just one win from 12 matches.
FAP president Datuk Seri Nazir Ariff, who announced the appointments, said Hodak will be given full power to decide on matters pertaining to the Super League team.
“Bojan and Nenad will manage the team according to their own style. FAP have given them 100% authority to improve the team’s performance,” said Nazir.
“From now on, we want the team to be run by football professionals ... not politicians, half-baked professionals or amateurs. We must work on improving the performance in the second half of the season to remain in the Super League.”
Bacina, who has coached JDT II in the Premier League and Tampines Rovers in the Singapore League, takes over the manager’s position vacated by FAP vice-president Mohd Azizudin Shariff last week.
In his first interview with the media since becoming the Penang team CEO, Hodak said it was unfair to place all the blame of Penang’s dismal showing on the feet of their import players.
“Penang have many young talents and local players with no previous experience of playing in the top flight. “Featuring for the Harimau Muda teams is not the same as playing regularly in the Super League,” said Hodak.
“We will see the report from the coaches, watch all the previous Penang games and then decide who is up to the standard. The problem in Malaysian football is that there is a limited supply of good local players, and all of them are contracted to other teams.
“The only good thing about Penang’s current position is that we cannot go down any further ... the only way now is up.”
Nazir also clarified that Manzoor Azwira, who was promoted as acting chief coach when Brazilian Jacksen Tiago was ‘rested’ in April, will return to his original role as the assistant coach. The former international will assist Hodak and Bacina until a permanent head coach is appointed.
“On paper, Tiago is still officially the head coach although he is no longer involved in coaching the team. We are still discussing compensation matters with him,” said Nazir.
The Super League will resume in August after the break for the fasting month and national assignments.
Did you find this article insightful?