BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
On the Selangor Football Day held last Saturday, association secretary-general Johan Kamal Hamidon took the time to address the Red Giants fans in a townhall session, providing them with snippets of the club's plans for the coming season.
Goal managed to attend the session as well as a subsequent press conference with the media, and here is our summary of the resurgent former Malaysian powerhouse's plans for 2020 and onwards.
To feature regularly at the Asian level
A more-forward thinking section of their supporters have for years been urging the team to push for qualification to Asian club competitions, and it seems they will get their wish. Johan did not beat around the bush and revealed that one of the objectives of their Super League team this season is to qualify for the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Champions League or the AFC Cup.
AFC recently announced that its competitions will be expanded in 2021, with early reports saying that Malaysia is set to receive one automatic Champions League group stage spot, and two automatic AFC Cup group stage spots.
"That is the target for next year; to qualify for an Asian-level tournament in 2021. The head coach (B. Satiananthan) himself said that it is his personal target."
According to Johan, the club is serious about their continental aspirations, and is eager to establish itself as one of the best Asian sides in the future. They will also start organising an annual pre-season friendly tournament; the Asian Challenge, featuring top Asian clubs, with the 2020 edition contested by them and three other top Southeast Asian clubs.
To develop its future players under the leadership of its technical director
The club recently announced the appointment of German trainer Michael Feichtenbeiner as its technical director, and Johan on Saturday revealed Feichtenbeiner's duties.
Michael Feichtenbeiner. Photo from Getty
Upon his arrival this week, Feichtenbeiner will assign the youth players on the club's roster into their reserve team (Premier League team Selangor II) and youth teams (U-21 and U-19). According to Johan, these youth players comprise trainees already on their roster, players absorbed from PKNS FC in the recent takeover, as well as National Football Development Programme (NFDP) graduates it recently signed.
"We are very serious with the technical director's appointment... He will be coaching Selangor II as well, because we want him to show the coaching staff how things are supposed to be done, instead of just laying out his instructions using the projector. In that way, we're also looking at the education and knowledge transfer aspects of things."
To get more children involved - as both supporters and trainees
Realising that their fanbase has eroded over the years, the club has been engaging young children in the state of Selangor by visiting primary schools and providing free match tickets to the lucky pupils.
"In 2019 we've engaged around 30,000 children through our outreach events. We want them to start supporting Selangor, to inculcate that supporting culture from young. These are future Selangor supporters as well as players, and we cannot afford to neglect them."
They are also getting the children involved with the game itself, through its state junior league and football clinics.
Grassroots football is key to the club, as stressed by president Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin in an interview with Stadium Astro:
"My motivation is the kids. I started off [in football] by looking at grassroots football because in Malaysia we haven't been developing players. We need to create young talents but in Malaysia our system is very broken and inconsistent. So we started at the grassroots level and saw that there's a huge interest in it among the parents."
To average 15,000 in match attendance
Johan acknowledged that match attendance in 2019 was generally low, averaging around 11,000. But the figure was an increase from a paltry 2,000 in 2018, and in 2020 the club is targeting a further increase, to 15,000, for its Super League team.
Selangor fans in 2019. Photo by Sports Regime
"Hopefully with a stronger team and our consistent outreach programmes, we can average 18,000 fans next season."
Another way the club is planning to expand its fanbase is by having its reserve team play their Premier League home matches away from its home ground; the Shah Alam Stadium. According to Johan, they will either play in Selayang or Cheras, in order to reach supporters in these areas.
To privatise its Super League team
Selangor are also looking into privatisation, in line with FIFA directives, said Johan. However, he admitted that the club board is still looking into the privatisation and ownership options, with discussions and planning still in its early stages.
"We are working towards it and this will take four, five more months. The first team will be privatised as Selangor FC, under the management of Red Giants Pvt. Ltd. This directive has come from FIFA and the Malaysian FA.
"The private entity will focus on commercial and footballing aspects, while the FA will handle matters of refereeing and coaching development, as well as state leagues and football development.
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