Mario Gomez is new chief coach of Harimau Malaysia

Mar 25, 2017
Gomez (left) with Tunku Ismail in February this year. Photo by Johor Southern Tigers

Former Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) coach Mario Gomez has been appointed as the new chief coach of Harimau Malaysia (national football squad), replacing Ong Kim Swee.

Kim Swee has been entrusted the task of coaching the national Under-23 squad.

The development saw the ouster of U-23 coach, Frank Bernhardt from the FA of Malaysia’s (FAM) football development plans under the new leadership of FAM headed by the Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.

Tunku Ismail, in his first media conference after winning the president’s post unopposed during FAM’s 53rd Congress today, said Gomez was given full trust and freedom to form a national team including picking his own assistants.

However, Tunku Ismail explained that close monitoring would still be done and if there were no signs of improvements in the given period, Gomez would be replaced.

“Mario Gomez has been appointed as the new national head coach and I will give him the freedom to choose his assistants. Meanwhile, Datuk Ong Kim Swee will take over the U-23 squad.

“Obviously, I will monitor his work and the performance of the national team. If there is no improvement in the style of gameplay and performance, then we have to change,” he said.

In the meantime, he explained that the dismissal of Bernhardt was due to their different ideologies and working styles.

“I can’t work with him, we have very different views and ways of working,” he added.

Meanwhile, Kim Swee said he was prepared to shoulder his new duties.

Kim Swee said he accepted the decision with mixed feelings of surprise and being appreciated because his services were still needed.

“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,” he told reporters after the FAM Congress.

The Malacca-born coach was also of the opinion that he would not face any problem to guide the Under-22 squad as he was already experienced on the matter.

“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,” he said.

For the record, Kim Swee has coached the team which won the gold medal at the 2011 SEA Games in Jakarta, Indonesia when they beat the host team 4-3 via penalty kicks after they drew 1-1. –Bernama