Johor DT have confirmed the departure of head coach Mario Gomez, merely two days before the 2017 Malaysia Super League season is scheduled to get underway.
Speaking through a statement on Johor Southern Tigers’ officia Facebook page, JDT President HH Tunku Tun Aminah binti Sultan Ibrahim said: “I would like to take this opportunity to announce that the Johor Darul Ta’zim’s Football Club and Mario Gomez have mutually agreed to embark on separate paths. This decision was derived for the betterment of the club as the philosophy and the direction of the club is paramount to anything else.”
“Nonetheless, I would like to take this opportunity to convey my greatest appreciation and say thank you to the legendary coach for his tremendous contribution to the club during his tenure. We will always remember his achievement for successfully guiding JDT to win the Charity Shield (2016), FA Cup (2016), 2 League Championships (2015, 2016) and the AFC Cup (2015). We would also like to wish him all the best in his future endeavours,” she added.
This undoubtedly comes as a major shock as Gomez was often regarded as an important fulcrum behind the club’s recent success. He led them to two Malaysia Super League titles in 2015, 2016 and an FA Cup title last year. But his biggest achievement would undoubtedly be the AFC Cup triumph in 2015, which officially made JDT the first Southeast Asian side to clinch the trophy.
Despite the departure of their two best foreign players from 2016, Gomez was retained by the management, and he has spent the last two months preparing for the new season. The former South China boss also travelled with the team during their recent Tour of Thailand, where JDT played friendly ties against Chonburi, Air Force Central as well as Buriram United.
With Gomez now officially gone, JDT II boss Benjamin Mora is expected to temporarily take charge of first team training while the club works on securing a replacement. Considering how sudden this decision is, it’s likely that JDT have not got a shortlist of candidates they can immediately approach. So the process of hiring a replacement will undoubtedly take some time.
But as far as Mora is concerned, this could be the perfect opportunity for him to vouch for himself. After all, he did spent the holidays studying under the tutelage of Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid. Should he spur JDT to a win over Kedah in the Charity Shield clash this Friday, all eyes could very well be turned towards him at that juncture.
More to come….