KUALA LUMPUR: Despite the perception that foreign coaches are better, a different situation is seen in the Malaysia League (M-League) as many local coaches are still given the trust to lead quite a few teams.
According the the list of teams coaches issued by Football Malaysia Limited Liability Pertnership (FMLLP), there are six coaches and one interim coach handling teams in the Malaysia Super League.
In fact, there are two teams who used to engage the services of foreign coaches but have now placed their faith in local coaches with Mohd Azraai Khor Abdullah being appointed as Negri Sembilan’s new coach replacing German Jorg Steinbrunner who resigned.
Kelantan on the other hand promoted former assistant coach Yusri Che Lah as interim coach for the Red Warriors squad after dismissing Thai coach Sathit Bensoh following a run of poor results last month.
Apart from these two teams, there are five local coaches who are former internationals during their playing days that are coaching in the Super League, namely Dollah Salleh who is in charge of Pahang, P. Maniam (Selangor), K. Rajagobal (PKNS FC), Abu Bakar Fadzim (Perak SEDC) as well as Irfan Bakti Abu Salim (Terengganu).
The five teams who bank on foreign coaching expertise are Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) who promoted 65-year-old Argentinian Raul Longhi to take over from Ulisses Morais who resigned at the end of last month, Kedah (Ramon Marcote), Kuala Lumpur (Fabio Maciel), Melaka (Eduardo Almeida) and Perak (Mehmet Durakovic).
However, based on the current performance of Super League teams so far, it can be seen that local coaches have what it takes to compete with foreign coaches as PKNS FC (Rajagobal) and Terengganu (Irfan Bakti) are in second and third place respectively.
These two teams have collected 10 points each from five matches and only two points separate them from league leaders JDT who are on 12 points.
Meanwhile, there is a wider gap in the Premier League as nine out of the 12 teams rely on the services of local coaches.
In fact, some of the local coaches plying their trade in the Premier League are seen as high profile coaches, namely B. Sathianathan (Felda United), Zainal Abidin Hassan (Penang), Ismail Zakaria (Kuantan FA) and K. Devan (MIFA).
Only three teams in the Premier League have engaged foreign coaches, with Felcra FC relying on Brazilian Tarcisio Pugliese, JDT II retaining the services of 38-year-old Mexican Benjamin Mora, as Sarawak bank on Australian coaching expertise in the form of Ian Andrew Gillan.