Kedah are set to appoint Spain's Ramon 'Marco' Marcote as head coach of the Malaysia Super League (MSL) club for 2018.
It will be a return to Malaysia for Marcote, who was assistant coach to Tan Cheng Hoe with the Red Hawks in 2015. The Spaniard actually led the club to the Malaysia Cup final as caretaker boss that year, while the new Harimau Malaya head coach was on a training course in China.
He appeared at the prematch media conference at Shah Alam Stadium, alongside Selangor coach Mehmet Durakovic, before Tan arrived the following day to lead the team as they lost 2-0.
"I will meet up with Marcote and sign a contract soon," club president Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah said, as reported in the Malay Mail. "The only thing undecided is whether the contract is for one year or two years."
Speculation has been rife about Marcote's return and the former Atletico Madrid fitness coach took to Instagram last month to address the rumours.
Official Note Lately in the media my name has been linked again with the kedah team. As a result of this a large crowd of kedah fans through social networks have asked me if I am back to Kedah or not. First of all, I would like to thank the kedah fans for their support and for their unconditional love. This affection is reciprocal. Secondly I want to say that I am flattered that my name appears among the coaches that could lead the kedah team, for me it is a pride to feel that in Malaysia and especially in kedah they continue to appreciate the work I did there 2 years ago. On the other hand I must inform that there has been no official contact and I have not received any official KFA offer. If the opportunity appears and is good for both parties it would be a pleasure to return to Malaysia. Give time to time. I hope this note responds to all the fans who are asking about this question. I am sure that KFA will be thoroughly evaluating all the options and that he will make the right decision to ensure the evolution and progress of his team in all the competitions that have to face the 2018 season. Marco Ramón Marcote @berita_sepakbola @tv3malaysia @beritaharian @dunisukan @kosmo_online @scoreboardextratimetv9 @kedahnews @tv9malaysia @astroarenahd @stadium.astro #tv3malaysia #tv9malaysia #astrotv #KedahFC(Kedah Fans Club) #KedahDarulAmanFansClub #Kedahangreenyellow #Hijaukuning #ArenaHijauKuning #HijauKuningKedah #DarulamanKedahFA #TheRedEagle #HelangMerah #HijauKuningHelangMerah #HelangMerahFansClub #Football #malaysia #kedah #supeleague #malaysiasuperleague #kedahans #malaysiasupportes #asianfootball #Football #malaysia #kedah #superleague #malaysiasuperleague #kedahans #malaysiasupportes #asianfootball #ECK
At the time, he wrote, "If the opportunity appears and is good for both parties it would be a pleasure to return to Malaysia."
It now seems he has got his wish, and he has a big job on his hands to keep Kedah among the top sides in the country.
Under Tan, they made significant improvements, winning promotion in 2015 before ending 2016 in third spot in the MSL while also lifting the Malaysia Cup.
Their progress was maintained when Muhammad Nidzam Adzha took over after Tan joined the national side as assistant to Nelo Vingada in May.
This year, the Red Hawks finished fourth and won more silverware by beating Pahang in the FA Cup final, while also reaching the Malaysia Cup final, where they lost to Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT).
Marcote has much to live up to at a club whose recent revival comes after a roller coaster decade. Kedah dominated the league and cups in 2007 and 2008, but slipped into the Malaysian Premier League in 2011 and stayed there for three years.
Marcote's job will be to keep the club challenging for honours. He won't, however, be able to lead them into the 2018 AFC Cup, following the club's failure to obtain the necessary license.
After last Wednesday's draw in Kuala Lumpur, MSL champions JDT are likely to face Singapore runners-up Tampines Rovers in the AFC Cup should they fail to negotiate a treacherous qualifying route to the AFC Champions League.