OKS hints at Harimau Muda departure

Malaysia U23 coach Ong Kim Swee has dropped the biggest hint of yet that he will be stepping down after the 2015 SEA Games. 

Following his side’s 1-0 defeat to defending champions Thailand, leaving them on the brink of an early exit from the tournament, the 44-year-old admitted his time as Harimau Muda coach is nearing an end.

“I’m not sure [where I’m going next],” he replied when quizzed by reporters about his future at the post-match press conference.

“Let me finish the two games against Brunei and Laos, and I will decide after that.

“[But] I think it’s enough to handle three SEA Games.”

The Young Tigers have struggled to hit the ground running thus far – edging Timor Leste 1-0 in the first Group B game, before subsequently going down to Vietnam and Thailand.

Barring any miracles, it seems like they are set for their first group stage exit since the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand.

Ong, who masterminded the 2011 triumph, believes the lack of preparation time have cost his side dearly.

“You have to compare how we previously prepared for the tournament to today,” he said.

“In 2011 when we won in Indonesia, we had trained together in Slovakia for two years.

“In 2013, we trained together for six months in Slovakia, while this time round, we only had three weeks of preparation.

“It’s not a blaming game, but I have to sit down and look at our program.

“We have to admit Thailand and Vietnam are definitely on top of us at the moment.

“In football development, you need players to be together [to be successful].”

On top of that, Ong believes playing three games in the period of six days had sapped the energy out of his players.

“We needed fresh legs after playing Timor Leste with 10 men and trying to play catch-up against Vietnam,” he said.  

“Besides that, we had to play this game at 4pm, which was less than 48 hours after our last game and gave an advantage to Thailand.”

The Harimau Muda will next take on Brunei on Monday in a bid to keep their slim qualification hopes alive.