JDT coach Jimenez spies on Fandi's men
The LionsXII had a very ardent observer in the stands at the Bishan Stadium last night.
Casually dressed in a red polo T-shirt and bermudas, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) coach Cesar Ferrando Jimenez (right) paid close attention to Fandi Ahmad's men, as they beat second-tier team DRB-Hicom 3-0 in the first round of the Malaysia FA Cup.
Also in attendance at Bishan were Singapore internationals Baihakki Khaizan and Hariss Harun, who signed lucrative contracts with JDT before the season began.
JDT will play the LionsXII in a Malaysian Super League (MSL) game at the Larkin Stadium next Tuesday.
Even though the Singapore side - who are defending MSL champions - were not at their best last night, Jimenez insists they have the quality to trouble his team of megastars.
"To me, there are four clubs who can challenge for the league this year," said the 54-year-old Spaniard, who can boast having Argentine superstar Pablo Aimar in his squad.
"Ourselves, Kelantan, Malaysia Cup winners Pahang and MSL champions LionsXII.
"I watched the LionsXII when they lost their first MSL game away at Pahang, and I think they deserved to score more goals in that game.
"They are a very young team so they lack the experience, but they have quality."
The former Valencia midfielder, who coached Atletico Madrid and Albacete in La Liga, was impressed with defender Safuwan Baharudin and midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin.
A relaxed Jimenez added that the weight of expectation from fans and media, who say JDT should canter to silverware this year, does not bother him.
Apart from Aimar, Bai and Hariss, the club also have 15 players in their squad who have been capped by Malaysia.
"It is normal," said the coach.
"JDT are a new team - in our first MSL match, we had eight new players in our starting 11 - so we need time.
"Now we are just a group of good players.
"But, in two or three months, we can be a great team."