THEY had some serious issues to discuss. Yet, seven of the 17 exco members – including head honcho Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah – must have felt otherwise as they were absent from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) exco meeting.
Top of the agenda was the fate of coaches Dollah Salleh (national team), Datuk Ong Kim Swee (national Under-23) and Razip Ismail (Harimau Muda A) following their squads’ recent failures.
But FAM showed they were better at sidestepping than the national players when deputy president Datuk Seri Affandy Hamzah announced that they will set up a special task force to make a detailed study of the situation before making a decision on the coaches.
The only piece of information revealed by FAM was that the task force will hold their first meeting after the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays.
Pressed on for the composition of the task force, FAM were non-committal.
FAM technical committee chairman Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad gave this explanation: “The task force will have a discussion with the national team managers and deputy presidents.
“The matter is a sensitive one as it’s regarding the livelihood of the coaches ... and some of the coaches’ contracts only end in December.”
Is that so, Mr Chairman?
If it’s that sensitive, then why didn’t seven of the exco members attend the meeting?
Anyway, when pressed further, Mokhtar blurted: “The task force is an idea ... give us more time to sort this out.”
That’s FAM for you.
But then again this is not surprising.
The FAM president who, by the way, is in Manama, Bahrain, for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) exco meeting has thrown a dare again.
Tengku Abdullah, in a letter to the FAM exco, said that he will quit the national body if the national team fail to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup Finals.
He has pulled off a similar stunt before. Tengku Abdullah had resigned as FAM deputy president in 2007 after the national team crashed out from the group stage of the 2007 Asian Cup – without a single win. Three years later, in 2010, he was back in FAM as deputy president again.
Last year, he became the supremo.
So, will he quit if Malaysia falter this time – as promised?
The national team have had a dismal start to their 2019 Asian Cup Group A qualifying campaign – drawing 1-1 with minnows Timor Leste and getting thrashed 6-0 by war-torn Palestine last month.
But then they still stand a good chance to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup Finals, to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as the tournament will be contested by 24 teams, having been expanded from the 16-team format.
Do FAM even care that Malaysia are now languishing with the minnows in 168th spot in FIFA’s latest world rankings list?
The Harimau Malaya are ranked just above whipping boys Bangladesh (No. 169), Yemen (No. 171), Pakistan (No. 172), Laos (No. 177), Cambodia (No. 181) and Brunei (No. 184).
If FAM continue to pussyfoot around the real – and serious – issues, then Malaysia can only go lower in the rankings.
Other decisions made at the FAM exco meeting:
No matches will be held during the fasting month from next season;
The Malaysia Cup will be rescheduled if Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and Pahang make the AFC Cup final;
All M-League teams must have automated external defibrillator (AED) (to treat sudden cardiac arrest);
All teams must have a doctor present during matches, including friendlies; and
The FAM Congress will be held on Aug 27.