Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) appointment of Luciano Figueroa as new team manager comes as a breath of fresh air.
The club seem to be heading in the European-style management which means the Argentine could become their main man.
While it remains to be seen if Figueroa will be manning the touchline like how European managers do, the bald-headed former striker will certainly add value to the team due to his profile, vast experience and special affiliation to the club.
FOX Sports Malaysia highlights some of the reasons why Figueroa will succeed in this prominent role.
Figueroa is a born winner
JDT saw something special in Figueroa when they decided to sign him in 2014. He arrived at the club with the pedigree of being an Olympic gold medalist, having clinched the football gold with Argentina at the 2004 Olympics. He had also helped Argentina finish second in the Copa America later that year. He may have played only two years for the national team (2004-2005), but ended his international career with 9 goals in 15 games. For JDT, he finished as the top three highest goalscorer in the league for the 2014/2015 season. Not to mention the six titles he won with the club. Even when he came out of retirement to briefly feature for the league champions at the season start this year, Figueroa managed three goals. That hunger and determination is bound to translate into his new role as manager.
He knows the club inside out
The 36-year-old is a prized asset to the club, and is highly regarded by JDT boss Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (TMJ). After his first retirement in 2016, Figueroa has worn different hats for the club, among them being Sporting Director and Club Ambassador. “He is an extraordinary character on and off the pitch, and now he has the chance to be an influential figure to the players,” said Safee Sali of his former team-mate in 2017, when Figueroa was appointed the club’s Sporting Director. Safee was spot on about Figueroa’s influence. Having been at the heart of the club since their revolution, the Argentine knows the quality of every personnel within the club, and what it is needed to take them forward.
He will get the ideal preparation for 2019
With JDT set to compete in next year’s AFC Champions League, they need will need an added boost of coaching and technical expertise. Which is why the club decided to send Figueroa for a coaching attachment at Atletico Madrid, Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. All these clubs have built a successful DNA to thrive at the highest level. If Figueroa can digest the vital knowledge from each club and customize it to JDT, he should be able to plot a successful path for the Southern Tigers at Asia’s premiere tournament. With two other coaches in Benjamin Mora and Hamzani Omar to aid him, a new chapter for Figueroa is only beginning to unveil.
Photo Credit: Johor DT