Bacina excited about new role at JDT II

The Croatian, who last coached Tampines Rovers in 2013, has returned to football in the region after taking up the assistant manager post at the Malaysia Premier League side
By Teng Kiat

Former S.League coach Nenad Bacina has been appointed the new assistant manager at Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) II as the Malaysia Premier League side shakes things up within its coaching ranks.

The Croatian will be second in command to compatriot Rajko Magic, who replaces Azmi Mohammad as head coach. Both will be joined by countryman and former Kedah FA coach Antonio Sisic, who will take goalkeeping and fitness sessions.

Having returned to his homeland after being axed by Tampines Rovers in May last year, Bacina explained that he was offered this new opportunity by ex-Kelantan FA head coach Bojan Hodak, who was appointed team manager of JDT earlier this week.

"He asked me whether I am keen to help with head coach Rajko, myself and another guy, Antonio Sisic," he told Goal Singapore on Thursday.

"It was about 10 days ago, very fast; we arrived seven days ago, I had only three days to prepare myself to come."

Bacina, who had indicated he would like to coach again in the region after the Stags ended his tenure halfway through his debut season, is excited about his new role.

"Coaching at Johor Darul Takzim, even in the second team, is a big opportunity," he explained.

"We have a Croatian head coach so the two of us, we are here to assist in different departments, to help him, to give him as much information [as we can] about the local leagues; he’s not been working in this area, so it’s quite new for him.

"It’s a new league, a new challenge."

The 42-year-old, who has also coached Woodlands Wellington and Hougang United in the past, indicated he will have no trouble adapting to Malaysia football, having sparred with their teams before in pre-season friendlies.

And from what he has seen of JDT II, who are captained by Singapore star Shahril Ishak, Bacina believes they have a promising squad.

"So far we have played five matches and have seven points, so of course we can see the potential in the team," he said.

"Shahril is one of the key players and we have another three imports, so the squad is quite good, together with the local players. We’ve not got much time to improvise anything, so we'd just like to focus to help them, maybe give them some more confidence."

Bacina's first official game will be on March 7, when JDT II travel to face Felda United away.