KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s football chief announced plans to step down on Monday after a record 10-0 defeat which cost the coach his job and prompted the sports minister to threaten to suspend the country’s soccer body.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) President Tengku Abdullah Ahmad Shah said he would gradually step aside, state-run Bernama news agency reported, without giving further details.
“I will step down in stages because there are a lot more matters in FAM that I have to complete,” he was quoted as saying. No timetable was given for his exit.
Coach Dollah Salleh had already resigned on Saturday, two days after last week’s embarrassing World Cup qualifying defeat to UAE — Malaysia’s worst loss ever.
The result has proved a tipping point for Malaysia, who were also held 1-1 at home by lowly East Timor and lost 6-0 to Palestine earlier in their qualifying campaign.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Sunday warned of “drastic” measures against FAM if it continued to “recycle” old excuses for losing, the New Straits Times reported.
He said one option would be a move similar to that by Indonesia’s football body, which suspended the country’s top domestic league in April after a dispute with the sports ministry.
“I can call for a suspension of FAM, just like how Indonesia did to their national body,” Khairy said.
But he called this a “last resort” as it could trigger sanctions from world soccer body FIFA, which has suspended Indonesia from international competition.
Three games into the second round, Malaysia, who face heavyweights Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, are bottom of Group A, below East Timor with a goal difference of minus 16.
The FAM has named former Malaysian under-23 boss Ong Kim Swee as interim coach, and hinted it may hire a foreigner to lead the team in the future.
Ong told reporters Monday he was counting on his players to “bounce back” against the Saudis.
“They deserve a second chance. It was a nightmare experience. Everyone is disappointed,” he said.