KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 – Kuching City FC created waves in their debut season in the Premier League and finished a creditable fourth in the league which came with a place in the prestigious Malaysia Cup competition.
While the journey in the Malaysia Cup ended with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of defending champions and favorites Johor Darul Takzim in the first round the team earned praise for giving the Southern Tigers a run for their money at the famed Larkin Stadium.
Well-known and well-traveled Irfan Bakti, 69, will be the new head coach for Kuching City when the Bukit Mertajam-born accepted a one-year contract to replace Japanese Akira Higashiyama who turned down an offer for another season.
Irfan, who even had a stint with Indonesian club Persipura Jayapura in 2007, was strongly linked to join Negri Sembilan in the new season but ”lack of professionalism from the Negri management saw him move to Kuching City.
And Irfan made it clear that he has accepted a one-year contract with Kuching City but has accepted a lofty target to take the team to a top-two finish in the Premier League which will get them a promotion to the elite Super League.
”I believe it is within reach. The management has retained most of the players from this year’s squad. I have been also been tasked to sign up some players from the peninsula to beef up the squad,” said Ifan when contacted.
“Kuching City has a mission and more importantly the vision to succeed. This is a plus factor for the team. I am impressed with their plans and the management is strong in this respect.”
Irfan was already on the radar of Kuching FC as early as September and even took a trip to the city that month to have a look at the set-up.
He did not hesitate to accept the Kuching City job when Negri’s lack of professionalism left things in bad taste not only for him but also for several others who had also put in their applications for the coaching job.
Irfan revealed the reasons for accepting the Kuching City head coach job for only one-season as he wants to retire from coaching at the end of next season.
”I am already 69 and I will be 70 next year. That is enough for me. It will give me great satisfaction in my coaching career if I can take Kuching City to a top-two finish in the Premier League,” added Irfan, a household name in the game.
As a coach, Irfan had stints with Negri Sembilan, Penang, Melaka TMFC, Perlis, Terengganu (twice) Selangor and Felda United.
Kuching City FC is another journey for the affable Irfan.