KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's football chief announced plans to step down yesterday after a record 0-10 loss. The disaster had cost the coach his job and also prompted the sports minister to threaten to suspend the country's football body.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tengku Abdullah Ahmad Shah said he would gradually step aside, state-run Bernama news agency reported, without giving further details.
"I will step down in stages because there are a lot more matters in FAM that I have to complete," he was quoted as saying.
"FAM must rebuild Harimau Malaya soonest, including the possibility of changing its players and coaches, for the sake of Malaysian football," he added. No timetable was given for his exit.
According to Malaysia's Astro Awani, he wanted the FAM to appoint his deputy Afandi Hamzah as acting president.
The Pahang crown prince was elected FAM president last year.
He succeeded his father Sultan Ahmad Shah, who was FAM president for 20 years.
Coach Dollah Salleh resigned on Saturday, two days after the embarrassing World Cup qualifying defeat by the United Arab Emirates. The loss was Malaysia's worst ever.
The result has proved a tipping point for Malaysia.
They were also held 1-1 at home by lowly Timor-Leste and lost 0-6 to Palestine earlier in their qualifying campaign.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Sunday had warned of "drastic" measures against FAM if it continued to "recycle" old excuses for losing, the New Straits Times reported.
He said one option would be a move similar to that by Indonesia's football body. The latter suspended the country's top domestic league in April after a dispute with the sports ministry.
"I can call for a suspension of FAM, just like how Indonesia did to their national body," Khairy said.
But he called this a "last resort" as it could trigger sanctions from world football body Fifa, which has suspended Indonesia from international competition.
Three games into the second round, Malaysia, who face heavyweights Saudi Arabia today, lie bottom of Group A.
They are below Timor Leste with a goal difference of minus 16.
The FAM has named former Malaysian Under-23 tactician Ong Kim Swee as interim coach.
It hinted it may hire a foreigner to lead the team in the future.
Ong said yesterday that he was counting on his players to "bounce back" against the Saudis.
"They deserve a second chance. It was a nightmare experience. Everyone is disappointed," he added.