JDT face bitter court battle versus former manager Mario Gomez
Argentina's Mario Gomez may be about to begin a new job as head coach of Persib Bandung in Indonesia, but a bitter end to his time at Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) remains unresolved.
Gomez won several honours during his time in Malaysia, including the 2015 AFC Cup. However, he abruptly left the Malaysia Super League (MSL) champions in January, with JDT II boss Benjamin Mora moving into his position.
It clearly wasn't a smooth parting of the ways, and Gomez remains locked in a legal dispute with his former club's owner Tunku Ismail Ibrahim (TMJ).
Gomez alleges that he is due unpaid salary from JDT and has indicated that there will be soon be a court hearing on the matter, with FIFA having been dragged into the affair.
"We will see each other in court soon," Gomez told the Malay Mail. "They do not want to pay my salaries. My lawyer and I are working on presenting my case to FIFA. I will give them very sensitive information."
Following his departure from JDT, relations between Gomez and TMJ were further strained in March.
As new president of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), TMJ was close to appointing Gomez as head coach of the national team. But the deal fell through as TMJ suggested that the FAM could not meet the South American's wage demands, and Portugal's Nelo Vingada took over with disastrous results.
Malaysia are winless in 2017, losing six of seven games under the veteran coach.
The threat of an ugly court case is just another embarrassing episode in a wretched year for Malaysian football. The past two weeks have seen the Harimau Malaya slip to an all-time low of 174 in the FIFA rankings, while Pahang embarrassed the FAM by rejecting an invitation to take part in the AFC Cup.
We have also seen MSL club Felda United demoted to the second tier for a failure to meet the deadline to submit the documentation required to obtain a licence.
Meanwhile, Gomez is relishing his new challenge in Indonesia's Liga 1, having been appointed last month. Despite the club having ended the 2017 season in a disappointing 13th spot, the 60-year-old is setting his sights high before getting to work next week, with ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder Michael Essien as part of his squad.
"I'm proud to coach Persib Bandung and can't wait for next week," Gomez said. "My mission is only one, to win. To coach an Indonesian club won't cause me any language problems as I have my Argentine assistant who speaks Bahasa.
"So we can train hard and smart to win the Indonesian league, next season."
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