PETALING JAYA: They have proven to be the undisputed top club in Malaysian football but Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) are not about to rest on their laurels.
The Southern Tigers have got coach Argentine Esteban Solari, who is now with the South American country’s Under-23 side, to chart their fortunes for next season.
Venezuelan Hector Bidoglio, who took them to the quadruple, has been tasked with keeping the talents coming – he will play a bigger role in charting the club’s youth development.
Club owner Tunku Mahkota Johor (TMJ) Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim announced the team changes in a special interview on the club’s official social media platform.
Argentina-born Bidoglio, who took over as coach from Mexican Benjamin Mora in July, will be promoted to the position of technical director to handle the club’s production line.
Alistair Edwards, the technical director, will now be the club’s chief executive officer, and will be involved in the club’s daily and commercial activities.
According to Tunku Ismail, changes had to be done as JDT were always moving forward and did not want to stay in their comfort zone despite a glorious 2022 season.
“I have known Esteban for a few years. He is now helping out the Under-23 Argentina squad together with Javier Mascherano.
“Esteban also received offers from a few other clubs but I managed to convince him to come here for the JDT project.
“Esteban is the younger brother to Santiago Solari, who is now in Real Madrid,” said Tunku Ismail, who also explained why they opted to make changes.
“We need a coach with charisma, who is also young and respected. Esteban has played in Europe and South America.
‘‘I am impressed with his management of players and desire to get players to perform at their best.”
He also revealed that JDT were planning to sign a striker from Brazil and two Spaniards to play in midfield and leftback.
“All existing imported players will be retained. The recruitment of these players is to back up the existing players because JDT need to rotate players. We will have a long season when we play in the AFC Champions League,” said Tunku Ismail.
JDT’s sweep of all four domestic titles – Charity Shield, Super League, FA Cup and Malaysia Cup while staying unbeaten in 35 matches – is by far the best result since Tunku Ismail’s involvement with the club began a decade ago.
“It is the best achievement and I know this cannot be repeated. If we can, that is good,” he said.
Solari is expected to arrive here in early January as his contract with the Argentine Football Federation runs until Dec 30.