Ong 'insulted', national coaches under scrutiny, only the best for Malaysia

As published in Mailsport today

By Haresh Deol 

KUALA LUMPUR — Datuk Ong Kim Swee is not a happy man.
The national Under-23 coach, who was recently made interim national coach, is dumbfounded after seeing advertisements by FA of Malaysia (FAM) in local dailies for the position of national Under-23 coach yesterday.
While trying to respect his pay masters, Ong was clearly frustrated over how the new coach is being appointed.
“Where do I stand?” he asked.
“I still have a contract and it ends in December. I was not told about the advertisement. I wish some people would be more sensitive towards my feelings as I have been tasked to run the national team and we have an important job in front of us ... to win our coming matches and improve our Fifa ranking,” he said.
Malaysia are placed 171 in the latest Fifa ranking on Thursday — its worst performance ever. The national team hope to redeem their pride when they play Laos in a friendly in Bangkok on Oct 8 followed by a World Cup/Asian Cup qualifier against Timor Leste in Dili on Oct 13.
Ong was tasked to take over the national team after Dollah Salleh quit following Harimau Malaya’s 10-0 beating by United Arab Emirates last month.
Insiders said Ong had ambitions to take over the national team but was now contemplating his position. 
“He had been toying with the idea of leaving but when handed the interim coach role, he believed it could be an opportunity to showcase his potential and secure the job,” a source close to Ong said.
“But now he has been insulted. The least FAM could have done is to speak to him and offer him a plan. At least Ong would know if he will be part of the national team.”
Another source said Ong would now be more determined to go job-hunting.
“He shouldn’t be distracted but instead he will now spend the next three months negotiating with teams before his contract expires. If FAM are interested, they should talk to him quickly. He can’t be waiting till the eleventh hour, he has a family to feed,” he said.
“It’s sad as it has been Ong’s dream to coach the national team but with all this happening, it’s as though he has been taken for granted and it is time for him to put his foot down.”
Former national coaches too have criticised the advertisement, saying it showed FAM have failed to groom coaches and did not have a succession plan in place.
Where is the succession plan?

By Haresh Deol 

KUALA LUMPUR — Former national coaches insisted the FA of Malaysia (FAM) should look within and groom their coaches instead of advertising to fill such positions.
They argued the national body had the full data of the qualified coaches in the country and as such must adopt a system to ensure these coaches spend time on the field. 
FAM had advertised for the post of Under-23 coach in major dailies yesterday, despite having to yet receive the findings of its “white paper” on whether the Harimau Muda programme should be scrapped or not.
The selection panel for the job comprised those within FAM and the National Sports Council.
“There shouldn’t be an advertisement,” said former national coach Datuk M. Kuppan, 78.
“Instead, we should be grooming these coaches who should then be given targets to improve at every level. 
Whoever is selected as national or Under-23 coach must make sure the team improves between 10 and 15 per cent. Only then we will see progress.”
He said Malaysia had many A-licensed coaches.
“But where are they now? They should be on the field, teaching, guiding, unearthing new talents at every level.
“If we had more teams at the grassroots, it would be more opportunities for coaches and the other backroom staff. This is lacking and as such, we tend to take the easy way out.”
Kuppan, started playing for Penang in 1958 and went on to don the national jersey, playing alongside the likes of Edwin Dotton, Tan Sri Ghani Minat, Yusof Bakar and M. Govingaraju. As national coach, he guided legends such as Datuk Mokhtar Dahari, Datuk R. Arumugam, Datuk Soh Chin Aun, Datuk M. Chandran and Datuk Santokh Singh.
Kuppan said many today tend to rubbish past glories and methods.
“Times are changing, so are methods and approaches, but one thing will never change – one’s passion towards the game. It’s either you have it or you don’t.”
Chow Kwai Lam, who coached the national team and the Barcelona project in the 1990s, also did not see the need for FAM to buy advertisement space to fill the position.
“Perhaps FAM don’t have other coaches, thus the advertisement. So who do we blame?” he questioned.
“It goes back to grassroots development. How many teams in the M-League have academies and clubs at the lower levels? The more teams a state has, the more coaches one can develop. Then we will have a larger pool of coaches and backroom staff to select.
“There is no point having many A licence coaches but they are not on the field where they should be. 
Experienced coaches should run the show,” he said.
Another insider, in the thick of the team’s preparation during Dollah Salleh’s short stint as national coach, said Malaysian football needed more than just a good coach.
“FAM can advertise and we can even lure the best in the world, yet our rankings will not improve as we don’t have the right foundation,” he said.
He added coaches did not have a large pool of talents despite the millions pumped into the national teams of various levels.
“Harimau Muda C’s playing stint in Slovakia was described as a success after the Under-19 boys won 15 out of 17 matches. So much money spent yet the same team were handed a 6-0 beating by hosts China (in the on-going Asian Football Confederation Under-19 2016 Qualifier on Friday). 
“We are struggling at the lower levels and it is evident,” he added.
Coached by Hassan Sazali Mohamed Waras, the Under-19 team take on North Korea at the Jiangsu Huai’an Sports Centre Stadium today.
“There seems to be no solution in sight. Clashes of ego, lack of planning ... an advertisement in the newspaper is not going to solve anything.”
Malaysia are 171 in the latest Fifa rankings released on Thursday, its worst ever standing – a far cry from its 75th position in 1993.


Only the best for Malaysia

By Haresh Deol 

KUALA LUMPUR — The national team conceded 48 goals in 18 matches since August last year, bringing the quality of coaches under further scrutiny.
Malaysia’s worst performance was in a World Cup/Asian Cup qualifier against United Arab Emirates, losing 10-0. On Thursday, it was placed 171 in the Fifa ranking – its lowest ever.
Former national goalkeeper Lim Chuan Chin said it was important to ensure the quality of national coaches was not compromised if Malaysia intended to progress.
“You need the best, only then you can get the best. There must be some form of standards which we should strive to meet,” said Lim, who is now FAM’s coach education department head.
Former Johor goalkeeper Omar Salim was part of Dollah Salleh’s set-up. Checks revealed he was a B licence coach.
Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, had on July 24 last year, questioned Wan Mustaffa Wan Ismail and Omar Salim’s appointments as assistant coach and goalkeeping coach respectively for Harimau Malaya as the duo were sacked by Johor FA for underperforming. 
The Johor Crown Prince’s statement was made on the Johor Darul Takzim website,, three days after FAM named Dollah and his backroom staff. Dollah and his coaches quit the national team after the humiliating outing against UAE.
The two highly qualified goalkeeper coaches in the country were Kris Yong, who is part of the Under-23 team, and Lim. Both have AFC instructor licences.
“It is unfair to just blame the coaches when things go wrong. Also, coaches are like grass, if you keep cutting them all the time, how will they ever grow?” Lim asked, adding it was important coaches be given room to explore and spend time on the field instead of replacing them immediately.
Asked if he was game on being part of the national set-up, Lim said: “Why not? I’m always ready for a new challenge.”


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