PETALING JAYA: Tan Cheng Hoe is always striving to be a better coach.
So when a chance came to improve his expertise, Cheng Hoe went to Belgium, ranked world No. 1 earlier in the year, for a 10-day coaching stint last month. He was attached to Belgian Division One clubs Anderlecht, Genk, Charleroi and Club Brugge from Nov 17-27.
He paid his own way and he has spent at least RM100,000 so far – including completing his Pro Licence coaching course in Guangzhou, China, last year. He was in China for 2½ months.
“Belgium is now No. 5 in the world. It has one of the best training facilities. It was a good experience as I also visited the academies to understand the whole set-up and how to run a team in a professional manner,” said Cheng Hoe yesterday.
“As a coach, you need to upgrade yourself from time to time. You cannot be using the last 20 years’ method to train the players and the team,” added Cheng Hoe, a former Kedah and international defender.
Cheng Hoe was aptly rewarded for his sacrifices. He was named the M-League’s Best Coach of the Year at the 2016 National Football Awards last Friday.
He steered Kedah to the Malaysia Cup title. The Red Eagles also finished third in the Super League and reached the FA Cup semi-finals.
In 2015, he helped Kedah win the Premier League to gain promotion to the Super League.
Yesterday, Kedah recognised the 48-year-old Cheng Hoe’s contributions by giving him a one-year contract. It will be Cheng Hoe’s fourth season with the Red Eagles.
“We’ll try to better our performance next season,” said Cheng Hoe.
For the new season, Kedah will be without New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz. But they are expected to beef up the squad by signing striker Ken Ilso Larsen.
The Dane was formerly with Singapore’s Home United, scoring 37 goals in 41 games in two seasons.
Kedah have retained the other two foreigners – Kosovan playmaker Liridon Krasniqi and Brazilian midfielder Sandro da Silva – as well as all the local players. The two new local inclusions are Penang defender Fitri Omar and Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) II midfielder Akram Mahinan.