NOT READY TO FIGHT
Malaysia ill-prepared to face powerful North Korea
NORTH Korea will be out to humiliate Malaysia when both nations meet in an Asian Cup qualifying Group B match in Pyongyang on June 8.
With less than a month before the encounter, the national team will likely head to Pyongyang illprepared as the FA of Malaysia (FAM) have yet to hire a new coach.
Worse still, Tan Cheng Hoe who was released by Kedah on April 29, has yet to be offered a contract by FAM and the 49-year-old is still in Alor Star.
He is only expected to be offered a valid contract next week after the ongoing Asian Football Confederation (AFC) congress in Bahrain.
Cheng Hoe was supposed to start scouting for players first before the arrival of a new national head coach.
“I am still in Alor Star... however, a contract will be offered soon, probably next week when FAM general-secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin returns from the AFC Congress,” said Cheng Hoe yesterday.
But things could be too late for Malaysia as according to sources, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered his national team to embarrass their Asian rivals on June 8.
“Jong-un not only wants his team to win… he wants to win big on June 8.
“He wants his team to make a statement in this match,” said a reliable source.
North Korea have several players who ply their trade abroad.
Their biggest name is Han Kwang-song who made his debut for Cagliari in Italy's Serie A on April 2, the first player from his country to appear in a top-class European league.
He netted a goal past England goalkeeper Joe Hart in the 3-2 win over Torino on April 9.
Ong Kim Swee previously coached the senior team before he was re-designated to handle the under-22 Sea Games squad.
Argentine Mario Gomez, who guided Darul Ta’zim to several successes in the domestic and Asianlevel competitions, was announced as the new senior coach by Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim after he was elected as the new FAM president.
However, the deal was called off after a misunderstanding between Gomez and FAM over contract issues.
Tunku Ismail has disclosed that he is currently negotiating with a coach from Portugal and that he will be forking out his own money to cover the salary of the new coach.
One of the coaches linked to the hot seat is former Portuguese international Paulo Bento, who was sacked by Greek champions Olympiacos in March.
The 48-year-old Bento has won titles with his former clubs Sporting Lisbon and Olympiacos, and also coached Portugal’s national team between 2010-14.
Hamidin said FAM are looking for a coach who will accept their offer on a long term basis.
“You need to know we have little money left in the coffer.
“If we want to hire a coach, not only do we need to look for someone with a good background, but also someone who will accept our offer,” he said.
For the Asian Cup qualifiers, Malaysia also have Lebanon and Hong Kong for company. Malaysia will entertain Lebanon in their second Asian Cup qualifying match on June 13.
The top two teams from the six groups in the qualifiers will join 12 other sides in the tournament proper in UAE in 2019.
FAM generalsecretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin