National Under-23 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee is annoyed after learning two of his key backroom staff from the National Sports Institute (NSI) will not be joining the team for a series of friendlies in Bangkok starting this weekend.
Ong had written to NSI on Jan 4 to secure the services of sports performance analyst Ahmad Hilmi Abdul Latif and sports physiologist cum nutritionist Norazmi Ramly for the three friendlies only to be told earlier this evening that they will not be joining the team.
Ahmad Hilmi has been a key member of Ong’s backroom staff since 2009, having recorded and analysed every match involving Ong as both the Under-23 and national coach.
“I was informed about this verbally today, one day before our team starts training tomorrow. Of course I am annoyed,” said Ong.
“Apparently Ahmad Hilmi and Norazmi are not allowed to join because football is not in any of NSI’s tiers. This is the first time Ahmad Hilmi has not been released. To me it shows that football is not important to those who made the call for not releasing these two individuals.”
Ong pointed out the friendly matches were to serve as a warm-up as his Under-23 lads prepare for the AFF Under-22 championship in Cambodia next month and the AFC Under-23 qualifiers in March in Kuala Lumpur. Ong and his team will leave for Bangkok on Jan 13 as they play Bangkok Glass (Jan 14), Army United FC (Jan 16) and Ayutthaya United (Jan 18) before returning on Jan 19.
Asked if it is high time for FAM to employ such professionals, Ong said: “I recomended Ahmad Hilmi to be part of FAM earlier this week but it will take same time for such matters to be sorted out internally.
“The FA of Malaysia is in the process of looking at this application. But till then, we need his services and I hope he will be able to join us.
“Otherwise, I will not be able to conduct a video session with my players and that’s not going to be good for our preparation for our upcoming matches,” he added.