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South Korea warn against LVG, AVB rumours

South Korea
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 By Paul Murphy

JDT ex-boss Mario Gomez new coach of Michael Essien's Persib Bandung

Terens Puhiri turned on the jets as he outran nearly everyone on the opposing team in the Indonesian first division.

Former Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) head coach Mario Gomez will try to rebuild the hopes of one of Indonesian football's biggest clubs after being appointed the new manager of Persib Bandung.

The Argentine has been entrusted with restoring former glories to the Java club after a disappointing finish in 2017, despite the presence of Ghana superstar Michael Essien and ex-England striker Carlton Cole.

Gomez is best remembered in Malaysia for leading JDT to the 2015 AFC Cup, while he also won Malaysia Super League titles with the club in 2015 and 2016.

After he abruptly left JDT at the beginning of the year, he was expected to become head coach of the Malaysian national team before a disagreement with the Football Association of Malaysia over conditions scuppered the move. Portugal's Nelo Vingada took over instead, with disastrous consequences, as Malaysia lost six of seven games in 2017, failing to win a match.

JDT coach Mario Gomez
Mario Gomez won two MSL titles and the 2015 AFC Cup with Malaysia's JDT.

The experienced 60-year-old must now attempt to meet the high expectations of the Liga 1 outfit, following a 13th-placed finish this year.

The side from West Java signed former Chelsea duo Essien and Cole for the 2017 season, and they were expected to challenge for the title. However, striker Cole's move did not work out, and he left in acrimonious circumstances in August without scoring.

Essien's time in Indonesia has been more successful, but he has still failed to live up to the expectations generated by a career that has seen him play for Real Madrid and AC Milan, as well as lifting three Premier League titles and a Champions League at Chelsea.

Persib were Indonesian champions in 2014 before a 12-month FIFA ban put the league on hold for two seasons. Gomez will now have to harness the best of the team's talents as they attempt to make a much stronger challenge in 2018.

It is a club with great potential, and Gomez will know all about playing with high expectations, domestic success having been demanded at JDT.

Persib is a very different challenge given the more competitive nature of Liga 1, but the fans will look at his achievements in Malaysia and hope he can bring a winning mentality to Indonesia.

Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK

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