With a permanent Malaysian national team coach yet to be announced, Vijhay Vick lists some of his top local (and almost local) candidates...
The Malaysian hot seat has been vacant ever since Dollah Salleh resigned following that 10-0 annihilation by the United Arab Emirates in September.
Calls – led by Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tengku Abdullah Shah – are being made to introduce foreign expertise. Tengku Abdullah has gone as far as pointing fingers at his fellow executive members for Dollah's appointment back in July 2014, stating his preference back then was for a foreign manager to be given the job.
Caretaker Ong Kim Swee has already thrown his hat into the ring and FAM are expected to name their man by the end of 2015.
Much work is needed in the short-term before they can even think about the long run. FourFourTwo looks at possible candidates if the FAM opts for a familiar face.
Ong Kim Swee
You can’t have a list of top local coaches without mentioning Ong. If FAM had implemented any type of succession plan, Ong probably would have replaced K Rajagopal at the helm in 2014.
His credentials speak for themselves, but there are also questions over his long stints in Europe and Australia, which did not yield desired results.
Ong won the SEA Games in 2011 and groomed talents like Fadhli Shas, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, Wan Zahrulnizam Zakaria and Izham Tarmizi Roslan.
The teams he handled at the 2013 and 2015 SEA Games did not live up to expectations, however, and his detractors have questioned the benefits of being based in Slovakia in 2013 and competing in the Queensland Premier League in 2014 as part of his preparations.
Ong seemed headed for the exit at FAM after stating he wasn't keen to take charge of another SEA Games squad, but being installed as interim coach for Malaysia has made him reconsider his future.
The 44-year-old had Malaysia trailing by a narrow 2-1 margin against Saudi Arabia until the match was abandoned in the 88th minute. He also oversaw Malaysia's first victory this year, in the friendly against Laos earlier this month, and defeated Timor Leste 1-0 for the first win of their World Cup qualifying campaign, which double as the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers. It is clear the players respond positively to his methods.
As has been suggested from a number of sources, including FFT's recent chat with Kevin Ramalingam, a list of Malaysia Super League (MSL) clubs will battle for his signature if FAM look elsewhere.