BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Despite having been demoted from the senior Malaysia team to the U23 Malaysia team almost instantaneously by the new Malaysian FA (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, Datuk Ong Kim Swee has accepted the decision magnanimously.
Following the 53rd FAM congress on Saturday that saw Johor Darul Ta'zim FC (JDT) owner Tunku Ismail capturing the presidential post, he announced that Kim Swee will be replaced by former JDT head coach Mario Gomez as Malaysia head coach, while Kim Swee will return to lead Malaysia U23, a role he once held before his appointment to the senior team.
According to Astro Awani, Kim Swee said he was pleased that his service is still needed by the new FAM leadership.
"I am still entrusted by the new president and this mandate means a lot to me and there is much that I need to do with the national young squad.
"I hope I can meet with the president soon to draw up plans to face the Under-22 Asia Cup qualification and the SEA Games in August," said the coach to the press after the congress.
He also looks forward to leading the U23 team in the 2017 SEA Games, which will be held in August this year by Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. In 2011, Kim Swee guided Malaysia U23 to the SEA Games football gold medal.
"This is the fourth time I will be with the SEA Games team, thus giving me a lot of experience and advantage.
"The approximately five-month period before the SEA Games is not long, but the national Under-22 squad has already started training since early this year and it will be a bit of an advantage," said the Melaka-born coach.
Tunku Ismail has long been critical of the appointment of Kim Swee as Malaysia head coach, preferring the role to be given to a more-experienced foreign coach. The Johor Crown Prince even went as far as stating that he would replace Kim Swee with Gomez, a few months before the congress was held.
However, no update has been given on the future of the current Malaysia U23 head coach, Frank Bernhardt.