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 By Nicolas Anil

Malaysia U22 boss Ong Kim Swee to get new contract after SEA success

Ong Kim Swee is set for an extended stay in charge of Malaysia under-22 national team after the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) decided to reward him with a contract extension.

The new deal comes after Ong redeemed himself when he returned to the national development side after being bumped down from the senior team in March.

The 46-year-old coach helped Malaysia qualify for January's AFC U23 Championship before guiding the team to the Southeast (SEA) Asian Games football final last month.

"Ong is interested to stay with the team, and we will just extend his contract. It may be a one or two year extension depending on our discussions with him soon," FAM president TMJ told Berita Harian.

The former national full-back has done well to rebuild his reputation after a dismal performance with the senior side at last year's AFF Suzuki Cup where Malaysia crashed out in the group stages in Myanmar.

In that tournament, Ong was missing his best players from Malaysia champions Johor Darul Ta'zim, and the country's poor showing put him under a lot of pressure.

Malaysia celebrate winning SEA Games goal v Indonesia
Malaysia's silver medal-winning performance at August's SEA Games helped Ong Kim Swee redeem himself.

But after his side surprised everyone by topping their AFC U23 Championship qualifiers group in July, the FAM promised him more time to work with his players.

Ong will now focus on preparing his team for the regional tournament, with a training camp in December.

Meanwhile, TMJ also said the Malaysia Super League (MSL) fixtures will be revamped to reduce lengthy breaks which have played havoc with teams' preparations.

"The league fixtures keeps being disrupted by long breaks, and it affects the players. I also don't want the national team's centralised training to only be for two weeks," TMJ said.

"If there is an U18 or U22 tournament, the league will continue and doesn't need to stop. In countries like Australia, the league goes on, even with age group tournaments.

"We already have the fixtures schedule involving all competitions in Asia, so we can start planning. We will discuss this at our next executive committee meeting."

The FAM president added that there are plans to add an additional quota for ASEAN players, but says the imports must have at least 30 international caps before they are eligible to play in Malaysia.

He said: "The influx of players from this region will help foreign sponsorship, and I hope the competing teams will receive at least RM6 to RM7 million annually."

The MSL now allows four imports per team, with a mandatory allowance of one Asian player.

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


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