PETALING JAYA: The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have made B. Sathianathan and Datuk Soh Chin Aun the scapegoats for the national team’s failings, sacking the duo as coach and manager respectively.
FAM vice-president Datuk Gulzar Mohd Nor has been appointed team manager while the new national coach would be named soon.
These decisions were made at FAM’s executive committee meeting, which was chaired by president Sultan Ahmad Shah, at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.
It was, however, not certain on what grounds Sathianathan and Chin Aun were sacked.
Was it for the national team’s 5-0 mauling by the United Arab Emirates in their Asian Cup qualifying match on Jan 21?
Or was it for Sathianathan’s now infamous “the M-League is not football” outburst moments after that defeat?
Or was it for revealing that only three players had passed the fitness test after having had barely five days to prepare for the UAE match?
“It is overall,” was their answer. As FAM deputy president Datuk Redzuan Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad said at the press conference: “There are conditions in the clause to terminate the coach’s contract if the performance of the national team is not up to the mark.”
Sathianathan and Chin Aun, though unhappy with the decision, accepted it anyway.
“Well, what can I do … I accept the decision but it does not solve anything,” said Sathianathan, who said he would call for a press conference in a few days’ time to set the record straight.
It’s surprising that FAM have sacked Sathianathan, given that they had just extended his contract to November.
Chin Aun, a household name in Malaysian football, took the decision in his stride, saying: “I did nothing to earn this wrath. Anyway, it is nothing to me.”
Chin Aun certainly has a case.
He was only supposed to be the assistant manager for both the national team and the Under-23 squad.
The FAM had appointed Khairy Jamaluddin as national team manager.
As Khairy was busy with his political duties, Chin Aun was told to accompany the team to overseas stints and for tournaments on behalf of Khairy.
When asked why was the “towkay” of Malaysian football made the fall guy, Redzuan replied: “The majority wanted new blood.”