KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Cheng Hoe was made the new national football coach today, replacing Nelo Vingada who quit the post just a day earlier.
Cheng Hoe served as Portuguese Vingada's assistant previously and has now completed an amazing rise to the country's top football job after only joining the FA of Malaysia (FAM) in March.
After FAM general secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin made the announcement yesterday evening, Cheng Hoe said he accepted the challenge to get the national team out of the doldrums.
"I was surprised to be offered the job and I accept it after discussing it with Tunku President (Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim)," said Cheng Hoe, who was also assistant to K. Rajagobal from 2009 to 2013 in his previous attachment to the national team.
"It is a heavy responsibility and I would like to thank Tunku President for his faith in me. This is a good opportunity for me to handle the national team.
"I know it won't be easy and I hope to get the support of everyone to get the job done."
Vingada left with the national team mired at an all-time low of 174th in the Fifa rankings with Cheng Hoe's first game in charge likely to be an Asian Cup qualifier away to Lebanon in March.
Cheng Hoe said he will need to assess the players available to him when the 2018 season starts after the national team went the entire year without winning a game, part of a 10-match winless run since November 2016.
"I can't say yet which players will be called up because I need to have a look at all of them when the new season starts," said Cheng Hoe, who picked the squad for Vingada's first match in June.
"I also need to discuss with the president on who will become the assistant coach. There is a lot of work to be done before the next match against Lebanon."
Cheng Hoe becomes the sixth local to become national coach since Norizan Bakar in 2006, who was succeeded by B. Sathianathan, Rajagobal, Dollah Salleh and Ong Kim Swee.
He joined FAM after leading Kedah to the Malaysia Cup title in 2016 after successfully promoting several young players to the senior squad.