Pan-gon best candidate to guide Malaysia out of doldrums, say FAM

PETALING JAYA: South Korean Kim Pan-gon (pic) has been given the mandate as the new national football head coach to revive the fortunes of Harimau Malaya.

Yesterday, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) announced that the 52-year-old is the replacement for Tan Cheng Hoe. By choosing Pan-gon, Malaysia have now followed in the footsteps of their regional rivals Vietnam and Indonesia in using Korean coaches.

FAM president Datuk Seri Hamidin Mohd Amin said a thorough assessment had been made in selecting Pan-gon.

“We used four factors in determining our next coach. We wanted him to have the knowledge on Malaysian football, vast international networks, understanding of the rivalries with other nations in the South-East Asian region and sound technical expertise,” said Hamidin.

Pan-gon has been given a two-year contract, and if he impresses, he will get a two-year extension from the body.

“Even though he didn’t hold any coaching positions in the last four years with a club or country, Pan-gon was the Korean Football Association (KFA) national team director and was instrumental in getting former Portuguese international Paulo Bento as head coach,” he said.

“And now, they are in the best position to qualify for the 2022 World Cup with an unbeaten record in the third-round qualifiers, with four more games left.

“He is also fluent in English, which will make it easy for him to communicate with the local coaching and management staff, the players and media. He also has vast knowledge on Asean and Asian football.”

Pan-gon holds the AFC professional football coaching diploma, the highest football coaching qualification in Asia. He started his coaching career in 2003 when he handled Hong Kong Rangers as a player-manager until 2004.

He then returned to South Korea to pursue his Pro AFC licence to start a full-time coaching career as Busan I’Park assistant coach (2005-2008), South China coach (2008-2010), Hong Kong coach (2009-2010), Gyeongnam assistant coach (2011) and again, as the Hong Kong coach from 2012 to 2017.

Pan-gon is expected to arrive in early February with four staff – an assistant, a goalkeeper coach, a fitness coach and an analyst.

He and his team will then start monitoring the local players in the Malaysian League and run the first national training camp in March to prepare for the third round Asia Cup 2023 qualifiers in June.

Hamidin said for the next two years, they would give him a chance to assess the players and hope that he can help the team qualify for the Asia Cup.

As for the key performance indicator (KPI), Hamidin said the technical director Scott O’ Donell would come up with a target for him in the next two years.

Meanwhile, Hamidin has also revealed that national team manager Datuk Yusoff Mahadi has resigned from his position to concentrate on his duties as the FAM deputy president and also chairman of the Amateur Football League (AFL).

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