Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Opponent Watch: Johor FA (Friendly Match)

As part of their round of friendly matches in Singapore, Malaysian Premier League side Johor FA will face Woodlands Wellington in a friendly match tonight. The southern Malaysian outfit is probably most famous for snaring Singapore soccer legend Fandi Ahmad as their technical adviser and team manager back in early February 2012. Tengku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, the Crown Prince of Johor and also the president of Johor FA, was reported to have influenced Fandi's decision to join the club.

Singapore legend Fandi Ahmad in Johor FA's dugout.
Photo Credit:  Jengking Fan Club

Fandi's team has been a revelation against Singaporean opposition so far, gunning down SAFFC 2-1 two days ago at the Choa Chu Kang stadium and the Malaysians will be confident to continue their winning run in Singapore. While the scorpions (Johor FA's nickname) lost narrowly to a LionsXII team led by the in-form ex-Woodlands striker Agu Casmir in a friendly in Larkin about three weeks ago, they will still be a formidable opponent for the Rams, who are still licking their wounds after that defeat against Kanbawza which sent them reeling out of the RHB Singapore Cup.

Fandi's immediate concern is to help Johor FA gain promotion to the Malaysian Super League and the match experience obtained from playing teams in the S.League will no doubt be helpful for his charges. Despite his appointment with the Malaysian team, Fandi shuttles very often between Johor and Singapore, where he coaches the H-Two-O Ultimate Dream Team on Tuesdays and Thursdays and also coaches at the Fandi Ahmad Academy on weekends. So, in any case, the footballing legend is still very much connected to the development of football in Singapore.

The Johor FA squad which faced LionsXII in Larkin.
Photo Credit: Jengking Fan Club

Johor FA is currently in 4th place in the Malaysian Premier League with 16 matches played. Although the Scorpions play in the second tier of football, that does not dent their fervent support with over 6,700 likes on their fan club's Facebook Page - the Jengking Fan Club (Jengking is Malay for scorpion).

Ervin Boban in
Johor FA's colours
Like Woodlands Wellington, Johor FA is a club with a long history and rich tradition which used to lock horns with Singapore in the FAM Premier League in the early nineties. Ervin Boban (left), a Woodlands legend in his own right, also used to play for Johor before he crossed the Causeway to join us during our inaugural season in the S.League. The 47 year old is now a youth team coach for his hometown team, RKN Split, back in his native Croatia.

Other big names include Aussies Abbas Saad and Alistair Edwards, both whom also plyed their trade in Johor before switching sides to Singapore. The former is now a familiar face on TV as a pundit with Astro Supersports while the latter is an assistant technical director with the FFA (Football Federation Australia) youth team.

During those days in the nineties, Johor were often known as draw specialists and the media had a field day writing about how they drew almost every game. Well, they seem to have shaken off that tag in the last decade and to cement that fact, the Scorpions won their last 4 Malaysia Premier League games on the trot before edging SAFFC.

Johor boasts a team with a number of fast attacking players, with Argentinian striker Muriel Orlando one of their fastest and most skillful players. The 23 year old has been instrumental in Johor's attack and will have to be well marked. Johor's playmaker, André de Silva, will also have to be watched closely as the Brazilian is a midfielder in the same mould as KBZ's Nunes Tercio, who orchestrated the play so effectively duing our RHB Singapore Cup loss to the Burmese champions. Despite their foreigners' influence in Johor's play this season, veteran player Fauzzi Mohd Kassim is the one banging in the goals for them this season. The midfielder from Malacca has 4 goals to his name so far and he will be keen to get on the scoresheet once again.

Muriel Orlando (in red).
Photo Credit: Jengking Fan Club
Fauzzi Kassim (in white) shielding the ball during Johor FA's victory over LionsXII in a friendly in late 2011.
Photo Credit: Jengking Fan Club

The Scorpions play a typical wingback system and this has proven to be the winning formula for the Larkin-based team. This friendly will be a good opportunity for Woodlands Wellington to try out the new tactics (which assistant coach Clement Teo mentioned in the match before Kanbawza) against a very good Johor side to gauge and fine-tune the shape and playing style that best suits our team.

For those who can make it down to the stadium, admission is free. We will also be updating live match highlights on both our Facebook page and Twitter account. (Twitter users, kindly note that the match updates will be tweeted under the #WWvJFA hashtag)

Match Information
Date: Tuesday, 22nd May, 2012 (5.30pm kick-off)
Venue: Woodlands Stadium
Admission: Free

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