PETALING JAYA: Felda United have dropped key players due to budget cut ahead of their Malaysia Super League season.
Newly-appointed head coach Mohd Nidzam Jalil confirmed that influential Brazilian trio – Thiago Junio, Gilberto Fortunato and Thiago Augusto Fernandes – and the Philippines international Iain Ramsay will be leaving the Jengka-based club.
Goalkeeper Farizal Harun and mercurial winger Christie Jeyaseelan were also released by the club last week.
In fact, Felda United are set to see 60% of their players from the Premier League-winning squad released.
Nidzam said the club would be looking to sign new players based on their moderate budget.
“We’ve operated on a huge budget for many years but now, we have to release influential players such as Farizal and Christie,” said Nidzam.
“We are negotiating with a few local and foreign players. The club have earmarked two foreigners who featured in the recent Super League and we are looking at a few players from Europe, Asia and Southeast Asia.
“Even with a moderate budget, we’ll sign five foreign players because we want to be one of the contenders in the Super League.”
Thiago was Felda United’s top scorer with 22 goals while Gilberto scored 16 goals for the club. Thiago Junio featured 22 times as a centreback while Ramsay was one the top providers for the club.
Last season, Felda United were crowned the Premier League champions and subsequently won promotion to the Super League.
Nidzam said they would promote youngsters from Felda, the club’s Youth and President’s Cup squads.
He said he was also looking forward to working with two highly-rated players Daniel Amier Norhashim, 21, and Muhammad Zahril Azri, 19.
“These two players featured in some games for Felda United last season and I was impressed.
“The club are focusing on work ethics and most of the youngsters, including Daniel and Zahril fit the bill,” he said.
Nidzam was appointed head coach after B. Sathianathan left the club in October. The former Selangor and Negeri Sembilan player worked under Sathianathan as an assistant coach and also used to helm former FAM league club SPA FC from 2011 to 2013.