Finishing sixth last season in their Super League debut, UiTM FC never looked back and now set their sights to contend for a higher spot this season, with new sets of calibre players.
Their rise to the top flight has opened the eyes of many, who initially sceptical of the varsity-based club to progress further, by comparing them to the now-defunct varsity club, UKM FC.
However, UiTM FC has resolved to continue progressing with the right approach, manpower and expertise.
The club surprised many by employing the service of former Malaysian U23 coach Frank Bernhardt last year, and continue to helm the club this season. Besides Frank, the club also secured the team captain Victor Nirennold to remain in command of the defence.
Nirennold performed satisfactorily to guard The Lion Troops’ defence by conceding only 15 goals in total across all competitions last season.
Bernhardt said that the 30-year old Frenchman is an experienced defender and his decision to stay is a bonus for UiTM FC to bolster the defence in their bid to contend for a higher finish, and fiercely compete with their opponents.
“I have four main players with vast experience at my disposal: Faizal Mohd Arif, Ahmad Khuzaimi Piee, Afif Asyraf dan Nirennold – these boys have helped the team to perform well last season,” he said.
For this season, The Lion Troops have also announced four new imports. They are Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Picak, Ghanaian striker Nana Poku, former Kelantan player Abou Bakr Al-Mel (Lebanon) and the UK-born FIlipino former Pahang exploit Adam Reed.
With new imports coming in, the team also secured local new players: Khairul Asyraf Sahizah of Perak II, Mohd Khairul Rizam Che Soh (Kelantan), Dirga Surdi (PDRM), Muhammad Farid Nezal (PDRM), Muhd Hardee Shamsuri (Pahang), Mohd Alif Najmi (Perak II), Mohd Fauzi Abdul Latif (Negeri Sembilan) and Mohd Khairul Izuan (Kelantan United FC).
Yet the influx of new players may have yet to produce stellar effects as the team now beleaguered after four matches for this season. Their only point thus far was gained by drawing Penang FC 0-0 in Penang on March 16.
UiTM FC opened their 2021 account with a defeat against Terengganu FC 2-1, despite courageous performance. This followed by another defeat to Kuala Lumpur City FC 1-0 prior to being thrashed at home 0-4 by league champions Johor Darul Ta’zim FC on March 13.
With only a point from four matches, The Lion Troops are hungry for a win in their next game against Kedah Darul Aman FC at home, prior to the FIFA international break. A win would hugely boost the team to realise its true potential to finish at a higher spot, further solidifying their reputation and name in the Malaysian football scene.
THE BRUNEIAN | KUALA LUMPUR