Source : The Star
JOHOR BARU: Financial constraints have forced Perak to off-load their three foreigners – Guinean hotshot Keita Mandjou, Croatian defender Vedran Kukoc and Burkina Faso midfielder Traore Abdoulaye – and six locals for the new season which is scheduled to kick off in the first week of November. All those released have existing contracts until the end of October.
However, coach Steve Darby, whose contract with Perak runs until October 2008, did not release the name of the locals who are mostly reserves. In a bid to further cut costs, Perak will promote two players to the senior team. They are Nor Hazrul Mustafa and Fakri Shaarani, both 18, from the youth team. The duo saw action with the senior team a number of times this season.
The Englishman added that whether Perak will recall any of the three foreigners released or hire any new foreigners will depend on next year's budget. He was quick to point out that the major revamp has nothing to do with the Seladang's failure to win any silverware this season.
Perak's budget for the new season is expected to increase considerably as they will be competing in the AFC Cup. This year's budget was nearly RM4mil.
“It simply boils down to funds. Who we hire for our challenge in the new season will depend on next year's budget.
“We had a small squad this season and it was because of money. It could be the same for the new season,” said Darby.
“All the locals released could not manage a first team place. As reserves it is too expensive to have them on the payroll. One of them is paid RM10,000 per month while another gets RM8,500.”
According to Darby, Perak will be looking at promoting their “young homegrown talent” to the senior squad to reduce costs. He added that those with contracts in the senior team for the next year or two have been retained.
“We have a unique contract system. There are some with one year, some with two years and some with three-year contracts. In this way we will not be short of players with experience when changes are made,” said Darby.
Darby is also expecting Perak to lose a number of players for national duty again in the new season.
“Just like Kedah, Negri Sembilan and even Selangor, I expect Perak to lose a number of their young players for national duty.
“It happened this season and it could be no different when the new season gets underway,” said Darby.
In the Super League, Perak were well poised to land their first league title but stumbled on the home stretch and allowed Kedah to be crowned the new champions.
In the Malaysia Cup final played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last week, Perak were beaten 0-3 by Kedah who completed a grand treble, having also won the FA Cup.
Former international Khalid Jamlus, who walked away with the topscorer's award for locals with 26 goals, is among those who will stay together with Yusri Che Lah and K. Nanthakumar.
Nanthakumar, who was named this season's Most Popular Player, has been called up to join the national team for the Korat SEA Games.