The Malaysia U23 national team returned to a hero's welcome at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday evening, after clinching an automatic qualification spot to the AFC U23 Championship finals in China next year.
The team qualified for the finals after finishing top of Group H of the qualifiers, ahead of rivals Thailand and Indonesia. It will be Malaysia's first appearance in the finals where all the powerhouses of Asian football like Japan, South Korea and China will be waiting.
Datuk Hamidin Amin was also part of the welcoming back party and he was ecstatic to greet the team who had done the country proud. Hamidin who is the General-Secretary of Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) promised just rewards for the players for their achievement.
"First of all I would like congratulate Datuk Ong Kim Swee, the staff and the players who have made the country proud by qualifying for the final round. Of course their sacrifice would be rewarded."
"Players and officials will get RM6,000 each and they will receive some more good news from our President Tunku Ismail. His Royal Highness also requested for to meet with the players as soon as possible," said Hamidin to the press.
Despite the qualification, question marks still remains as to the position of Ong, whose contract runs out at the end of 2017. Having guided the team to China, it hasn't been confirmed that he will be retained in the role and lead the team into the finals.
Hamidin was adamant that the results speak for Ong and that it is more than likely that when judgement is passed on him, it would only result in Ong being offered a contract extension.
"[We want] To continue with this and with the blessing of the President. Datuk Ong's contract finish end of this year but Tunku President will consider with Exco based on performance of Datuk Ong," he added.
The squad's next assignment would be the 2017 South-East Asian (SEA) Games that Kuala Lumpur will be hosting.