KUALA LUMPUR – The appointment of National Under-23 squad head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee as an immediate replacement for National head coach Dollah Salleh has raised more questions than answers.
The million dollar question is can Kim Swee, 45, change Malaysia’s ailing fortune in 2018 World Cup Qualifier and 2019 Asian Cup in United Arab Emirates (UAE) who incidentally whipped Malaysia 10-0 in their Group A match on Thursday.
Former National player Nizam Jamil felt the appointment of Kim Swee as the interim National coach could bring about some changes in the tactical approach of the squad that will be facing Saudi Arabia but to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup could be a tall order.
“I have confidence in Kim Swee’s ability because he has been in charge of the National squad and has vast experience. The issue though is the attitude, responsibility and commitment of the players.
“They (players) must realise that representing the country is an honour. They must therefore change their mindset,” Nizam who played for the country in the 90s told Bernama.
Meanwhile, Kim Swee has told the players to erase the bitter memory of the embarrassing 0-10 defeat to UAE and focus on the task of playing against Saudi Arabia at the Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday.
“Talking about the defeat or thinking about the defeat cannot change anything but what is important now is to regroup and divert their focus,” he told reporters when met Saturday.
He said since the players are familiar with him and the coaching staff since he was in charge of the National squad for about four months – from Feb 3, 2014 to June 28, 2014 – after former National coach Datuk K. Rajagobal’s contract was not extended by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) when it ended on Dec 31, 2013.
“We will now have to work of the psychology and mental strength of the players so that they can show their true calibre when facing Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The FAM in its Facebook posting also said Kim Swee had called up five players for the Saudi match, namely Ramadhan Hamid, Adam Nor Azlin from Harimau Muda B, Mohd Fadhli Shas (Johor Darul Ta’zim), Ahmad Fakri Saarani (Kelantan) and Nurridzuan Abu Hassan (Perak).
Kim Swee is expected to drop six players from the current squad which has only one point after a draw against Timor Leste and two defeats to Palestine (0-6) and UAE (0-10).