BY DARREN GOON Follow on Twitter
The Croatian was originally installed as JDT’s team manager to assist head coach Cesar Ferrando Jimenez, with his extensive knowledge of Malaysian football and valuable experience of winning trophies, having accumulated four gongs in a two-year spell with Kelantan from 2012 to 2013.
Despite securing comfortable passage to the FA Cup semi-finals , it was the Spaniard’s poor start that counted against him, as losses to T-Team and Pahang in his first five games saw his team drop to as low as tenth in the league at one point. Even after Hodak was on board, JDT only managed four wins at the league’s half-way point, a poor return for aspiring champions.
Tunku Ismail decided that enough was enough, and promoted Hodak to head coach, dropping Jimenez to their development team, JDT II. JDT’s form immediately picked up, collecting nine wins out of their final eleven games as they surged to the pinnacle of the MSL. Incredibly, they only reached top spot for the first time in mid-June, and they stayed there to be crowned Super League champions.
This goes to show that Hodak managed to instill a winning mentality in his team, and coupled with the shrewd acquisitions of Marcos Antonio and Jorge Diaz in the April transfer window, fueled JDT’s late, but consistent, surge to the title.
Credit must also be given to his rotation policy, a crucial element for a squad of JDT’s quality, comprising a collection of the M-League’s best players. Hodak wasn’t afraid to drop big-names like Safiq Rahim or Safee Sali (though admittedly, his poor form helped) or even club captain Aidil Zafuan, who played no part in the team’s final league fixture, the one that won them the league.
For all these reasons, Bojan Hodak fully deserves (in order of importance) the league title, and Goal’s “Best Coach” award for the 2014 MSL. He’s now won two Super League titles and two FA Cups, but only one Malaysia Cup. Can he complete the set in November? We certainly wouldn’t put it past him.