PETALING JAYA: Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim is a man of his word.
On his first day as the new supremo of Malaysian football, the Tunku Mahkota Johor (TMJ) made his first change by appointing a new national team coach.
Yesterday, he named Argentine Mario Gomez as national coach and demoted Datuk Ong Kim Swee to the post of national Under-22 coach. Gomez was the coach when Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) became Malaysia’s first-ever team to win the AFC Cup in 2015.
German Frank Bernhardt will be removed as the Under-22 coach once he returns from his assignment at the Dubai Cup Under-23 tournament, which ends in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 28.
“I want to fix the national team as much as I can, in terms of the appointment of coaches, selection of players, ideology and playing philosophy,” said Tunku Ismail in his first press conference as FAM president yesterday.
“Mario will be given the freedom to choose his assistants. I will monitor his work and the performance of the team. If there is no improvement, then we have to change,” he said.
The 32-year-old also vowed to revamp the national body, including auditing the FAM’s accounts, improving the quality of referees and streamlining the FAM workforce.
“We will get modern technologies and foreign expertise to improve our referees. And we’ll also reduce the staff in FAM because I only want people who can contribute to the organisation.
“I will review the FAM accounts and study it. I need to know how much money we have and what we are going do with it,” said Tunku Ismail.
He added that he will take a hands-on approach in running the FAM.
“Everybody has to follow my momentum and pace. I’m a young man and I like to get things done. But I’m not worried about that because I’ll have my people everywhere and I’m very hands-on,” said Tunku Ismail.
But he admitted that the biggest problem was tackling the demanding Malaysian football fans.
“The fans are the biggest challenge. They want to win the World Cup but our football has been in a slump for 30 years. We have to be realistic.
“I’m going to be with the team, the coaches, the players and we’re going to fight to qualify for the World Cup. The target is also to improve the system so that in the long term we can become a very good football nation with a sound system and structure,” he added.
Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal of Selangor and Malacca’s Datuk Yusoff Mahadi were elected as the two FAM deputy presidents in yesterday’s elections.
Subahan, the president of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC), received 37 votes while Yusoff Mahadi garnered 33 votes. Incumbent Datuk Seri Afandi Hamzah was ousted after receiving only six votes. The four vice-presidents elected are Mohd Joehari Mohd Ayub (34 votes), Datuk Abdul Ghani Hassan (29), Datuk S. Sivasundram (28) and Datuk Rosmadi Ismail (20).
THE FAM OFFICE BEARERS
President: Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
Deputy presidents: Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal, Datuk Yusoff Mahadi.
Vice-presidents: Mohd Joehari Mohd Ayub, Datuk Abdul Ghani Hassan, Datuk S. Sivasundram, Datuk Rosmadi Ismail
Exco members: SAC Datuk Azisman Alias, Datuk Aminuddin Omar, Datuk Hisamudin Yahya, Datuk Jeffrey Low, Supt Mohd Dali Wahid, Christopher Raj, Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh, Mohd Firdaus Mohamed (men);
Datuk Suraya Yaacob, Shafizah Umamah Abdul Mutalib (women).