The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) appears ready to lock horns with Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim after releasing details of the controversial Oceania Tour and addressing the international retirements of four players, including captain Safiq Rahim.
The international retirements of Safiq, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, S. Kunanlan and Amirul Hadi Zainal came as a blow to the Malaysian squad, with the FAM making the surprise revelation they are yet to speak to the players involved and have not received any explanation.
FAM general secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin and national coach Ong Kim Swee addressed the press on Monday, stating their hopes they can find a solution to what has turned into the biggest football story in the country this year.
The national body defended Ong’s training methods and rubbished allegations made by Tunku Ismail that the Tigers were not undergoing enough high intensity training.
Ong also insisted he was unaware of any issues during his time at the helm, which commenced on a full-time basis in January this year.
“No player has raised complaints to me or my coaches about training or their grouses towards FAM," Ong said.
Other points raised in the press conference included:-
- The FAM being shocked and disappointed over the retirements of players in their prime, as players usually only do so after tournaments or because of injuries.
- FAM will send official letters to the players, demanding an explanation regarding the matter. There has been no official contact thus far.
- FAM presented the Oceania Tour schedule, refuting allegations by JDT owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim that the national team did not train enough. The Malaysians had 13 training sessions during the period, three match-days and six days of travelling during the 19 days they were away.
- Ong Kim Swee insists national team players have not voiced any displeasure over training methods or towards FAM in the past.
- Presence of National Sports Institute officials – the country’s sports science agency – as part of the backroom staff is evidence of the high importance placed upon the fitness of the players. Heart rate monitors are used and sessions have been recorded on video.
- FAM have always taken care of the welfare of the players in the national team.
- Players need to have the desire to play for their country, not the association or the president. The country must be put before all.
- FAM president Tengku Abdullah also wears other hats and that explains the lack of presence at training sessions, a response to one of Tunku Ismail Sultain Ibrahim’s criticisms.
More to come