PETALING JAYA: One has been given the boot while another has given his resignation letter.
National Football Development Programme (NFDP) head coach Lim Teong Kim, who was paid RM175,000 a month, has been sacked by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) following the failure of the national Under-16 team to qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup next year.
And the NFDP chief executive officer (CEO) Safirul Azli Abu Bakar resigned to make it a double blow for Malaysian football.
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman said Teong Kim and Safirul should be held accountable after the Under-16 team’s 2-0 defeat to Japan yesterday.
The Malaysian Under-16 team finished bottom of Group A behind Japan, Tajikistan and Thailand in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 Championship. Only the semi-finalists automatically qualify for the tournament in Peru next year.
Malaysia defeated Tajikistan 6-2 on the opening day (Sept 20) before losing to Thailand 4-2 three days later.
Syed Saddiq, who called for a press conference shortly after the team’s defeat said it was only right for Teong Kim to take the responsibility.
“It was he (Teong Kim) himself who set the benchmark to qualify for the U-17 World Cup. I was informed that his monthly salary package is more than RM175,000 and the bulk of it is paid by NSC (National Sports Council).”
“So we must reassess and re-evaluate his contract. RM175,000 is not something that we take very lightly.”
Concerning Safirul, who had handed in his resignation, Syed Saddiq said he would discuss with NSC, NFDP and FAM first before declining or accepting it.
“We want to discuss the restructuring of NFDP to ensure it is heading in the right direction and reaches their destination. We cannot quickly bring it to an end because at the core it is a good programme,” said Syed Saddiq.
“There must be some level of accountability and Safirul has taken the responsibility by resigning.”
In a statement on FAM’s Facebook page, FAM’s secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam said FAM president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin instructed that Teong Kim be given the boot.
“The decision was made based on the national squad’s failure to progress beyond the group stage,” said Stuart.
“Datuk Hamidin has instructed FAM’s deputy president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal to convene a meeting with Peter de Roo (the FAM Youth, Technical and Development Committee and FAM technical director) and form a selection panel to find a new coach for the Under-16 squad.
Stuart explained that Teong Kim has been on the payroll of the Youth and Sports Ministry through the NSC.
“Teong Kim was named by FAM as the Under-16 coach in his capacity as the head coach of the NFDP, but he is contracted with KBS. While we have decided to dismiss him as the Under-16 coach, it is up to Youth and Sports Ministry to decide the future of Teong Kim,” said Stuart.
The Malaysian U-16 squad comprised the first generation of players formed through the NFDP which was launched in 2010 and relaunched in 2014.