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Time for a change, OKS and FAM should start looking separate ways

In modern day football, 10 years is a long time to be in one organisation and that is exactly how long Ong Kim Swee has spent with FA of Malaysia (FAM), having joined them back in 2009 as head coach of Harimau Muda.

That association will come to an end by the turn of the New Year as it was revealed yesterday that his contract which runs until the end of December 2019 will not be renewed by the governing body.

While many things can be said about how things have turned sour rapidly after the shocking results produced by Kim Swee in the Southeast Asian Games, like any cycle, it has come to a natural end.

Apart from the two years between 2015 to 2017 where Kim Swee was in charge of the senior team, majority of his time with the national team was with the underage group with plenty of ups and downs.

Ong Kim Swee - Harimau Muda

There was the 2009 Malaysia Premier League title, 2011 SEA Games gold, winning the 2013 Merdeka Tournament which are seen as tangible successes he has had with the youth side.

Then there was the memorable wins over Saudi Arabia enroute to reaching the last 16 of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China and beating South Korea in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

Those are balanced out by the failure to break out of the group stage in the 2015 and 2019 SEA Games as well as not being able to qualify for the 2019 AFC U23 Championship.

Whether it is the Under-23 or Under-22, Kim Swee's work has always been limited to the period in which he can work with a particular set of players. Improve them for a 3-4 years and they move on.

Hassan Sazali & Ong Kim Swee - Harimau Muda

Throughout his time, there has been a plethora of players that have come under his wings and progressed through the ranks into seasoned professionals that are mainstays in the senior national team.

While it would be churlish to think that Kim Swee's work alone has helped developed this players, there's no doubt that he had played an important role in the development of these players to becoming pivotal figures.

Nor Azam Azih, Syafiq Ahmad, Shahrul Saad, Syahmi Safari, Adam Nor Azlin, Matthew Davies and Safawi Rasid are just some of the names that has received guidance directly from Kim Swee at one time or another.

FAM intimated that they while Kim Swee will not be part of the U22 side any longer, they want to keep the experience and knowledge that Kim Swee has within the camp by looking to offer him a different role.

Malaysia's Ong Kim Swee and Baddrol Bakhtiar - 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup 25/11/16

Under the last updated FAM organisation chart, Kim Swee's designation includes being the head of Youth and Development, overseeing all age-group levels and that remains a possible role for the 48-year-old.

But after a decade of working together, perhaps the time now is right for both parties to seek a more permanent separation from each other as both look to close one chapter in their respective/joined history.

Over the years, his work has not gone unnoticed. Kim Swee has been coveted and courted in the past by teams and national associations around the region and the latest results are unlikely to significantly reduce the interest.

But he is a proud Malaysian who always put the interest of the country's football ahead of his own personal gains, he is known to be adversed to be helping regional rivals improve their teams. 

It would be interesting to see how the Malaccan take his wealth of experience with national sides to a club side, a job that requires different skill set because of it's day-to-day nature but that is where the next path should lie for Kim Swee.


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