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 By Nicolas Anil

Tan Cheng Hoe to quit Kedah to join TMJ, eyes Malaysia national role

Kedah coach Tan Cheng Hoe admits that the lure of working under the new Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president is too hard to resist, and has made up his mind about joining the Crown Prince of Johor's revolution.

The fast-rising Kedah coach was slated to be the assistant of Mario Gomez, who was handpicked by the Crown Prince (TMJ) as new national head coach. But after asking for a more lucrative offer, the Argentine may not take over, after all.

On Tuesday, TMJ left the door ajar for Tan to come on board, and the bespectacled coach is bent on taking up the offer.

"I will leave it to FAM and Kedah to resolve this matter," Tan told ESPN FC.

"This is the best opportunity for me to work in the national body with TMJ. His plans for Malaysian football are good and I want to be part of that. I have already tendered my resignation with Kedah earlier this week, and am waiting to things to be finalised."

The homegrown coach, however, says he may still be in charge of Kedah's Malaysia Super League (MSL) home game against PKNS FC on Saturday.

Tan has built a legacy with Kedah since taking over from David Mitchell in 2014.

After earning promotion to the MSL from the second-tier Premier League, he inspired them to a Malaysia Cup final in 2015, before winning it last year following the triumph over Selangor.

Kedah, Selangor before 2016 Malaysia Cup final
Tan Cheng Hoe won the 2016 Malaysia Cup with Kedah, having taken them to the final for a second straight year.

And this season, the Canaries have stepped up their game a few notches under his guile. With some sumptuous possession and quick passing football, they have stayed unbeaten, with 30 goals in 11 matches.

"The foundation I have set is already there. The players have always been committed, and the fans have always been our 12th man. I want to thank them for everything and wish them all the best," said Tan, who initially played down the chances of a move away from Alor Setar.

He concedes that he will not have any problems returning to the national assistant coach role he assumed under K. Rajagobal's reign from 2009-13.

"I know my role, so it is not a problem," he added.

Tan, however, reserved his opinion when asked if he deserved Malaysia's top job.

The 48-year-old's impending return to the national fore comes on the back of TMJ's vision of seeing Malaysia qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

"I believe the 2026 World Cup is possible if we can dominate Southeast Asia," said TMJ.

Asia will be afforded eight slots for the expanded tournament, as opposed to the four offered to the continent for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.

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