It’s time to go

DATUK Ong Kim Swee has paid a heavy price for his football team’s early exit from the Philippines SEA Games.

He will no longer coach the team.

Yesterday, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) announced that Kim Swee’s contract that runs until the end of this year would not be extended – a day after the Under-23 squad were humiliated 1-3 by Cambodia and finishing second last in Group A in Manila.

Kim Swee, however, could rejoin FAM but in a non-coaching role in future.

Kim Swee took the decision in his strides and said he would spend time with his family before making any decision on his future.

“I’ve been informed that my contract will not be renewed. I thank FAM for the opportunity to serve as a coach, ” said Kim Swee, who arrived with the national team yesterday night.

“My immediate plan is to get some rest and reflect on what lies ahead. My family is now my utmost priority.

“I’ve not received any other offers at the moment and it’s still early to talk about my future plans.”

FAM secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam did not dwell on the team’s shocking defeat but thanked the Melaka-born Kim Swee for his service.

“Kim Swee’s contract ends at the end of this month and since we don’t have any assignments for the national Under-23 team, we are not offering him a contract extension, ” said Stuart.

“And since there’s no assignment for the Under-23 team, we are not in a rush to appoint a new coach. We will meet Kim Swee after he returns from Manila to see what can be done… he still can contribute to Malaysian football but perhaps in a different role.”

Former international Kim Swee joined FAM as the Harimau Muda squad coach in 2009.

He also has served as the national team interim coach in 2014 and 2015 before he was appointed full time as the head coach in 2016.

He, however, was redesignated as the Under-23 coach in 2017.

Kim Swee’s rise to fame came at the 2011 Indonesia SEA Games where he led the Under-23 team to the gold medal.

He also has guided the national team to the quarter-finals of the 2018 AFC Under-23 Championship and the round of 16 at the 2018 Indonesia Asian Games.

But 2019 ended up being a dismal year as his men missed out the 2019 AFC Under-23 Championship and failed to get past the 2019 Philippines SEA Games group stage. — By K. RAJAN

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