Mario Gomez appointed Malaysia coach; Ong Kim Swee thanks TMJ for U23 role

Gomez had led Johor Darul Ta'zim to two MSL titles and AFC Cup glory in 2015.

Ong Kim Swee
Ong Kim Swee (R) will now be at the helm of U23 team Reuters

Football Association of Malaysia's newly-appointed president Johor Crown Prince has replaced national coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee with former Johor Darul Ta'zim coach Mario Gomez.

The Crown Prince, who is also known as TMJ, had hinted earlier that he would make a change at the top if he becomes president, especially after the recent results that has not gone the senior national team's way. Notably, Kim Swee, who has been named the coach of U23 team ahead of 2017 SEA Games, received a lot of criticism after Malaysia's poor performance at last year's AFF Suzuki Cup, in which they were ousted as early as in the group stages.

Gomez is a proven tactician and his two-year tenure with TMJ-owned JDT was a huge success as the Argentine led the Super League giants to their first-ever AFC Cup title. The Southern Tigers thus became the first Malaysian side to win the continental crown and were dominating the league with two titles and an unbeaten run in 2016 under the 58-year-old.

TMJ though has revealed that he wants positive results from Gomez and the latter will also be under scrutiny if he does not live up to expectations. However, the 32-year-old has revealed that he cannot guarantee immediate results and that he will be with the coaches and players at Malaysia's AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifying campaign, starting 8 April.

"I have Mario to replace Ong Kim Swee, who will be heading to the U23 squad. Mario should be starting work by next week," TMJ said, as quoted by ESPN.

"Mario will have his own assistant, I will give him the freedom to choose. But Mario's performance will be monitored. If I can see progress, he can be there. If he is not up to the mark, then we will have to change.

"We have been in a slump for 30 years. We have the Asian Cup qualifiers coming up, and I don't think I can promise to get us there, I just came in.

"But I am going to do my best. I will be with the team, the coaches, the players and, obviously, we are going to give it our best shot and fight for the country. But the ultimate target is to improve the system so that for the long term."

Frank Bernhardt, who was handling the U23 duties, will make way for Kim Swee once he finishes his duties at U23 Dubai Cup in the United Arab Emirates on 28 March. Meanwhile, the latter, who had previously led Malaysia to SEA Games glory believes he can get the best of the boys this year at Kuala Lumpur and thanked TMJ for giving him the new role.

"It is a surprise, but also an honour to be given the chance to by the new president. We have a lot to do, and I hope to meet the president and start a new phase before the SEA Games begin. Time is against us, but the boys have already been training together," Kim Swee added.