JOHOR Darul Ta’zim’s discards S. Chanturu and R. Gopinathan will both be unveiled officially on Tuesday as Melaka’s new signings for the 2018 M-League season.
Coach Eduardo Almeida said both the former international wingers will add depth as he aims to take his team to new heights in Malaysian football next season.
The Portuguese coach arrived in June and his missions were to rescue Melaka from relegation and lead them to the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Cup in the recent season.
It was initially tough for Almeida as he had limited time to groom his players into a formidable unit due to the congested schedule. Under Almeida, Melaka won seven and lost seven with two draws in all competitions and achieved all targets.
The 39-year-old, who recently signed a year-long contract extension, retained only nine players from the recent season.
They are Fazli Paat (goalkeeper), Faizal Muhammad, Nicholas Swirad, Khair Jones (defenders), R. Surendran, G. Puaneswaran, S. Sivanesan, Jeon Woo Young (midfielders) and forward Fauzi Roslan.
The new signings are former national goalkeeper Zamir Selamat, Azmi Muslim, Shazlan Alias, Azrul Ahmad and Farderin Kadir.
Norshamil Abdul Ghani, who joined Selangor from Melaka last season have returned to the club, while Akmal Ishak will also rejoin Almeida’s side after a season-long loan spell at FAM Cup side PJ Rangers.
Last season’s top scorer Mohammed Ghaddar could be Melaka’s marquee signing as JDT are open towards releasing him to the club.
“Negotiations are still on-going with Ghaddar. A French defender and a Portuguese midfielder have signed pre-contracts but nothing is confirmed yet,” Almeida told NSTP Sport yesterday.
The Melaka United Soccer Association (MUSA) have also signed Miguel Jose Leite and Joao Pedro Baptista, both from Portugal, as the club’s technical director and fitness coach.
Slovak Vladmir Gramblicka have also joined Almeida as the club’s physiotherapist.
“The target next season is to finish top five in the league. We also want to do well in the FA Cup and Malaysia Cup. We have made near-wholesale changes as we want better results next season.
“There is a need to sign a foreign striker to beef up the squad. Ghaddar is the target but we have options if his move to Melaka does not materialise,” said Almeida.
Melaka will start their pre-season training on Dec 4 and will head to Vietnam for a playing tour in the following month.
Almeida has decided not to return to Portugal for Christmas next month as he wants to focus on preparing Melaka for the new season.
“My wife and son are here with me. I cannot return to Portugal for Christmas as I need to get my players prepared for the new season,” Almeida added.