Ong believes in local talent, gives Sundram vote of support

Malaysia coach Ong has given his Singapore counterpart V.Sundramoorthy his backing ahead of the two nation’s international friendly on Friday… 

Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee believed Singapore made the right choice when the Football Association of Singapore appointed V.Sundramoorthy as interim head coach.

Sundram became the first local coach to lead the Lions in 16 years, since Vincent Subramaniam coached the team from 1998 to 2000.

Some in the public have since made their dissatisfaction with the appointment known, as they clamour for a coach with more impressive credentials and experience.

Previously, Sundram had coached at the club level and served as an assistant coach to Bernd Stange at the international stage, but he had little experience as a head coach of a national side.

Ong will be deprived of Safiq Rahim's services when they face Singapore. Photo: EPA

His biggest achievement as a technical staff came in 2014, when he led the LionsXII to the Malaysia Super League (MSL) title.

But Ong -- who too faces similar opposition to his appointment as Malaysia head coach -- has given the Singaporean his vote of confidence.

“I'm someone who believes in local coaches and Sundram is someone who knows the region well,” Ong asserted.

“He proved himself in the MSL and will a lot of familiar players with him. So yes, he is capable.”

But for all his respect for Sundram, Ong will be looking to get one over his Singapore counterpart when Malaysia square off against the Lions on October 7 at the National Stadium.

This despite Malaysia not being in the best of shapes, with the recent retirement of four national stalwarts, including that of captain Safiq Rahim.

Their training camps were also disrupted with recalls, as Johor Darul Ta’zim asked for the return of four players until the FIFA stipulated date of release --  usually four days before a match is played.

“It's not going to be easy heading there with the situation we are facing but we have to take things with a pinch of salt and look at the positive,” Ong added. ”We have to go there wanting a result.”

While Singapore is vastly different side from the one that won the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup, Ong also urged caution against the Lions.

“The 2012 side was a different breed because they had naturalised players. That made a lot of difference,” Ong reflected.

“Looking at the current team, I think it is more appropriate to compare with the 2014 squad... I think they are improving. Look at their results in the World Cup qualifiers, much better than us.”

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