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Ex-Manchester United trainee Ashley Westwood appointed Penang coach

Bengaluru FC

Former Manchester United youth player Ashley Westwood has been appointed Penang FA head coach, taking over from Croatian Nenad Bacina, who led the Panthers to Malaysia Super League (MSL) safety last season.

Westwood, who was part of the FA Youth Cup-winning side with the Red Devils in 1995, joins the island outfit on the back of a successful stint with Bengaluru FC. Westwood led the Indian team to two league titles in three seasons, in 2014 and 2016.

The 40-year-old, who left the 2016 AFC Cup finalists in May, will take charge of Penang for the 2017 MSL season.

Westwood will, however, not have the privilege of working with Bojan Hodak, who masterminded Penang's top-flight survival on the final day of the season. The ex-Johor Darul Ta'zim boss has stepped down as the team's chief executive officer.

"My contract with Penang ends on Nov. 30, and I will not continue after this. The management and myself have different views on the team moving forward, so we will be going our separate ways," Hodak told ESPN FC.

With, or without the guidance of a chief executive officer, Westwood is expected to turn around Penang's fortunes, and make them a formidable force in the country once again.

It will be a first Southeast Asia assignment for the former Bradford City and Sheffield Wednesday defender, who was also once linked to the Singapore national head coach job.

Penang fans are still celebrating last week's news that their forward Faiz Subri made it onto the 10-man shortlist for the FIFA Puskas award for goal of the year after his outrageous 'knuckleball' free kick against Pahang in February.

If Faiz makes the three-man shortlist on Dec. 2, he will be Malaysia's first representative at the coveted Ballon d'Or awards in January.

In other MSL news, Kedah midfield maestro Liridon Krasniqi extended a two-year deal with the reigning Malaysia Cup champions.

"My heart is still with this club, so I want to say that I will be with Kedah for the next two years," said the Kosovar playmaker on the club's Facebook page.