PETALING JAYA: New coach, big plans, but same old story.
The FA of Malaysia (FAM) are looking for a new national coach again to chart the fortunes of the Harimau Malaya for the umpteenth time.
Technical committee chairman Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and his committee will crack their heads to find the person whom they believe will lead Malaysia to greater heights.
National coach Datuk K. Rajagopal’s days are numbered judging by FAM’s plans to commence interviews with shortlisted candidates from the total 42 who have applied for the hot seat. The big question is whether FAM will opt for a foreigner or a local.
A former national coach said it does not really matter provided the person picked is given a free hand to carry out his job without any outside interference.
“We have had numerous foreign and local coaches since the 50s. A national coach is a national coach. The most important thing is no interference,” he said.
According to him, the previous national coaches, including the foreigners, have had strong credentials but realistically have failed in their bid to bring much success to the national team.
“The foreign coaches coming here are good people but what freedom do they have? To make matters worse, they have no knowledge (of the players), practically zero when they come. So, they have to start from scratch. It is a sad thing,” said the former coach.
The record shows that more than a dozen foreign coaches, including some big names of the game have come to our shores since the 50s, including Dettmar Cramer, Dave McLaren, Karl Heinz Weigang, Frank Lord, Josef Venglos, Trevor Hartley, Richard Bate, Claude LeRoy, Allan Harris and Bertalan Bicskei.
The results and achievements have not been something to shout about. We have only qualified to the Olympics twice through the guidance of the late Jalil Che Din (Munich 1972) and German Karl Heinz Weigang (Moscow 1980). We have never qualified for the World Cup Finals.
There was Venglos, later of Celtic and Aston Villa fame, and Frenchman Le Roy, credited as the brains behind Cameroon’s success in the late 80s and yet they could not work their magic here.
Weigang succeeded in the 1980 campaign to the Moscow Olympics but Malaysia missed the Games following the US-led boycott. So, the only coach who had successfully brought Malaysia to the Olympic Games was the late Jalil Che Din in Munich 1972.
In Asia, Malaysia’s best achievements are two bronze medals - in 1962 (Jakarta) and in 1974 (Teheran).
Since then, Malaysia have struggled to get to the knock-out stages.
The national coaches have mainly been successful at the regional SEA Games and the Asean Football federation (AFF) championships.And even then, the locals have done a much better job.