FFT’s 2017 Malaysia’s New Year Wishlist

A new year usually brings about changes and here are some FourFourTwo would like to see in Malaysia football in 2017...

The end of coaching uncertainties

Who will be in the Malaysian hot seat after the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Congress in March?

Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, who has been vocal, controversial and never out of the limelight, claims Malaysia will have a new coach after March, but it is probably in the Tigers’ best interest if there is certainty earlier. If FAM is to stick with Ong, a stand must be made as soon as possible. Otherwise, FAM should sack Ong now and not in March, so the new coach can prepare for the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers, which starts in March.

The return of the retirees

Let’s face it, Malaysia were never ready to cope with the premature international retirement of JDT’s Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, Amirul Hadi Zainal and S. Kunanlan and will probably not be able to cope with things without the quartet for the next couple of years.

READ ALSO: Malaysia’s unravelling international retirement mystery

Safiq is arguably the best player of his generation and was sorely missed in middle of the park during Malaysia’s disastrous AFF Suzuki Cup campaign in November. Having captain Malaysia in their 2010 heroics and finished top scorer when Malaysia finished runners-up in 2014, Safiq has experience the Tigers need.

Safiq's influence is sorely missed by the Tigers.

No forced absentees, not just the injuries

Having four key players in their prime announce retirement is damaging enough, having a further five or six players out – from injury or surprising omissions – only make things even more impossible.

It is an open secret that some JDT players were ‘unavailable’ for selection through no reason at all. The likes of Izham Tarmizi Roslan, Fazly Mazlan and Azrif Nasrulhaq would have walked into the Tigers line-up on any day while Junior Eldstal and S. Chanthuru could have added some steel following injuries to Christies Jayaseelan and Brendan Gan, but they were not called-up. Ong, in manner that only provokes more questions, dismissed queries, saying “I named the best available squad.”

A good start to the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers

Malaysia will go over three decades without qualifying for the Asian Cup on merit (appearance in 2007 was by virtue of being co-hosts) if they don’t play in the 2019 edition.

Malaysia will go over three decades without qualifying for the Asian Cup on merit (appearance in 2007 was by virtue of being co-hosts) if they don’t play in the 2019 edition.

When the tournament expansion to 24 teams was announced, Malaysia saw it as a less challenging task to make it to the Finals. Yet Malaysia could actually have a bigger task at hand compared to when they failed to qualify for the 2015 editon under K. Rajagobal.

The Tigers have only regressed Since missing the last edition and struggled to even match Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam at the Suzuki Cup. At the rate things are going, Malaysia will need a favourable draw and a change of fortunes – massive one!

SEA Games gold medal

The football gold medal is the mother of all medals at the regional games. Malaysia did not win the 2009 and 2011 editions but the country rejoiced when Malaysia under-23 delivered the football gold medal.

The pressure is on Berdhardt to deliver at the 2017 SEA Games.

Now an under-22 tournament, Malaysia have placed a gold medal target for Frank Bernhardt and his charges. Winning on home soil will only make things sweeter.