PETALING JAYA: Many were sceptical when Kuala Lumpur announced their new foreign signings.
Their three new signings – Ivorian striker Tchetche Kipre, Filipino winger Patrick Reichelt and Brazilian striker Herlison Caion – are all over 30 but have bags of experience to take down any defenders.
Kipre, 35, joins the club from Terengganu and has played in the Malaysian League since 2017. He also played for Kedah from 2020 to 2021.
Reichelt, 34, joins the City Boys from Thai club PT Prachuap but has experience in Malaysia when he played for Melaka in 2019.
Caion, 32, featured for Selangor last season, scoring 14 goals in 22 Super League matches.
However, coach Bojan Hodak knows what he is doing and has told fans not to question their age and even gave the cliche line, “Age is just a number, my friend.
“These players that we have signed, we tried to bring them before, but they had bigger offers from other clubs. I know people have said they are old and so on, but I believe they have what it takes to add depth and strength to this club,” said the Croatian, who is entering his third season with KL.
“Last season, the biggest problem was we didn’t have depth in attack and finishing but now we have solved that.”
The club also signed Danish-Italian utility player Sebastian Avanzini and Croatian centreback Matko Zirdum to complete their quota of nine foreign players.
The ones retained are Australian centreback Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Colombian midfielder Romel Morales, Brazilian playmaker Paulo Josue and Filipino Kevin Ray Mendoza.
“Yes, we have nine foreigners, but again I do not think these are expensive players. We have a slightly higher budget than last year but able to get the best talents out of the budget we have.
“Sebastian is a player who can play in a variety of positions, while Matko, we brought him because Irfan (Zakaria) left for Sabah, so we have Matko as a cover in the centreback position.
“As of now, we will not sign anybody else. We have a squad with better depth and slightly better than the last two seasons. I can see the new guys are slowly gelling and settling in.”
As for local players, the club have signed leftback Nazirul Naim, playmaker Firdaus Saiyadi and winger Sean Gan Giannelli.
It’s learnt that the club could also complete the signings of utility defender Khair Jones and winger T. Saravanan.
Expectations would surely skyrocket but Hodak said the team would take it game by game.
“We are still a club with a modest budget. Financially, we can’t compete against clubs like JDT (Johor Darul Ta’zim), Sabah, Terengganu, Selangor, Kedah and Pahang.
“But we are a team that can surprise anybody.”