JDT name Luciano Figueroa sporting director, make Alistair Edwards TD
Recently crowned Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) have appointed former striker Luciano Figueroa as their new sporting director, replacing Alistair Edwards.
Ex-Argentina international Figueroa, who won two MSL titles and scored 23 goals in 2014-15, takes over with immediate effect.
But after initially announcing that Edwards would be leaving the club on their Southern Tigers Facebook page on Saturday, the club performed an about-face and announced that the ex-Johor, Singapore and Australia forward would become JDT's technical director.
"JDT is currently undergoing a restructuring process whereby we have recently appointed Luciano Figueroa as the new Sporting Director. However, his responsibility and focus will be on the first team and, at the same time, to assist JDT head coach Ulisses Morais," the club said in a statement.
"Alistair Edwards, meanwhile, has been appointed as the new Technical Director and will be responsible and oversee all JDT development and grassroot programmes."
The decision came from JDT's Crown Prince Owner -- popularly known as TMJ -- who is also the president of Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
Earlier in the day, the club announced: "Any rumours circulating Edwards will head to the Football Association of Malaysia are not true. His contract with JDT has ended, and we wish him all the best in his future undertakings."
49-year-old Edwards, who won the league and Malaysia Cup with Johor as a player in 1991, came on board at JDT in January 2016.
Despite limited English and Malay language skills, Figueroa will bring a South American flavor to the last club for whom he played before hanging up his boots in Oct. 2015.
In his prime, Figueroa won Olympic gold with Argentina in 2004, alongside Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, and was admired by TMJ during his two-season spell at JDT.
"He has passion and dedication, is humble and easy to work with. He never had a problem with time management and self-discipline. I always received positive comments from the coaches, proof that he is the best foreign player I've signed," TMJ said of Figueroa in 2014.
The 36-year-old has since been eclipsed by countryman Jorge Pereyra Diaz in terms of JDT goals, but his influence in the club remains strong as ever. The hiring of Figueroa also solves any communication barrier with their South American contingent, which includes Argentine forwards Gabriel Guerra and Gonzalo Cabrera.
Having wrapped up a fourth consecutive Malaysia Super League title, JDT are now bidding to win the Malaysia Cup for the first time since the club was revamped under TMJ in 2012.
In June, TMJ made another dramatic change in bumping Mexican coach Benjamin Mora to JDT II, and bringing in Portuguese journeyman Ulisses Morais.
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