Sunday December 28, 2003
Jurilj back to spearhead club’s challenge in Premier LeagueBY RIZAL ABDULLAH
JOHOR BARU: Australian national Mirko Jurilj – who was jailed for five months in January 2001 for match-fixing in Singapore – is one of three Australians who will spearhead Johor FC's challenge in Premier League next season.
The FA of Singapore (FAS) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) also imposed a lifetime ban on the former Sydney United player who was then playing for his Sembawang FC in the Singapore League.
However, FIFA did not support the call by FAS and AFC for a worldwide ban on Jurilj, who was released from prison after serving 100 days.
Also jailed for the same offence was Jurilj's German flatmate Lutz Pfannenstiel who was the goalkeeper for another S-League club Geylang United. The German was also sentenced to five months jail.
BACK IN TOWN: Mirko Jurilj (right) and Lutz Pfannenstiel were jailed for five months for match-fixing in 2001. Jurilj is one of three Australians who will play for Johor FC in the Premier League next season.
After his release, Jurilj went back to Australia to pursue his football career.
Before agreeing to join Johor FC for the 2004 season, Jurilj was playing for Paramatta Eagles in the Australian league.
Johor FC secretary Tahir Hamdan said the club have checked with FIFA that Jurilj – a former Australian international – is free to play despite his conviction in Singapore.
Jurilj, however, is no newcomer to Johor FC. He played for the Johor club in 1995 and 1996 when Johor FC won the FAM Cup twice in a row under coach Raul Carizo. Carizo is also back with Johor FC after an eight-year absence.
The other two Australian players who will don Johor FC colours in the Premier League next season are striker Zeljko Sean Babic, 27 and defender Ante Milicic, 29 – both from Sydney United.
Jurilj, Babic and Milicic played together for the Australian national youth team in their younger days. Milicic was also the top scorer for Sydney United in the Australian League three years ago.
Meanwhile, Johor FC have turned down an invitation from Kedah to play in a quadrangular in Alor Star due to lack of preparations.
“We have just started our conditioning training. At this stage, the players are not ready to play in a competitive tournament. A bad showing in the quadrangular can affect the players,” said Tahir.
According to Tahir, Carizo will take charge of the team's final preparations from Jan 8 after he returns from Australia after spending Christmas and the New Year with his family.