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Interim coach Ong pushes claims for fulltime Malaysia national job

Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee and Brad Maloney
Ong Kim Swee (left) and Brad Maloney worked together on the Harimau Muda project.

KUALA LUMPUR -- Interim national coach Ong Kim Swee believes that Malaysia's recent results are good enough to warrant him getting the job on a fulltime basis.

Ong, who took over for the second time as a caretaker in September, is one of three finalists for the position alongside ex-Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) and Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak and ex-Sarawak boss Robert Alberts.

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) will interview the three candidates on Monday before making a final decision.

"While being permanent national coach is very different to being a caretaker boss, I think I could continue to help Malaysia improve," former Harimau Muda head coach Ong told ESPN FC.

"Both Bojan and Robert are very good coaches but I am hopeful that I will be given the opportunity, which would be a huge honour."

45-year-old Ong is best known for winning the football gold medal with Malaysia U23 at the 2011 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. He was also in charge in the 2013 and 2015 tournaments.

Having previously served as interim senior coach when K. Rajagobal's contract ran out at the end of 2013, Ong stepped in again when Dollah Salleh quit after Malaysia suffered a record 10-0 defeat to United Arab Emirates in AFC World Cup qualifying in September.

Under Ong, Malaysia's results and performances improved. They won their first game of 2015 with a 3-1 victory over Laos in a friendly in October before securing a 1-0 win away to Timor Leste in a qualifier.

A setback came when they were beaten 6-0 by Palestine in November before an improved performance in a 2-1 loss to United Arab Emirates a few days later.

Ong believes that his experience with the Malaysia U23 side could give him the edge as FAM make their choice.

"With some of the older guard coming to the end of their international careers, the former Harimau Muda players will be in their prime over the next couple of years as they reach their mid-20s," he said.

"Because I know them well, I can continue to help with their development."

Malacca-born Ong is a former national team player who was a full-back and midfielder. He appeared in the 1994 Asian Games but was forced to retire before his 30th birthday because of a serious knee injury.

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