Hamidin’s golden touch sees Harimau Malaya on course for greater success

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian football fans finally have something to look forward to again as the Harimau Malaya return to action at the highest level for the 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar, next January.

The improvements shown by the national team in the last five years have certainly brought some cheer to supporters who have endured disappointments for such a long time.

Developing national football and seeing happy fans has been the dream of Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin since his appointment to the hot seat on July 14, 2018.

The national side’s progress under Hamidin’s leadership has been evident as Malaysia’s ranking jumped 34 rungs from 171 in June 2018 to 137 recently, on course for being among the top 70 teams by 2030.

This has been Malaysia’s best position in the last 17 years since it was ranked 127th in May 2006, and Hamidin has a mission to ensure that the Harimau Malaya break into the top 130 by the end of the year.

Malaysia also ended their 42-year wait to qualify for the Asian Cup on merit in June last year, following various efforts introduced by Hamidin such as FAM’s ‘F:30’ roadmap and the naturalisation programme.

After a good start, his leadership was tested when the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the national team’s momentum in the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifying campaign in 2020, followed by failure to get past the group stages of the 2020 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup competition.

The pressure faced by FAM at the end of 2021 saw him make a bold decision to appoint South Korean, Kim Pan Gon as the Harimau Malaya head coach to replace Tan Cheng Hoe.

The move has paid off as the national team ended an over four-decade wait to return to the Asian Cup on merit and are now oozing with confidence after recording four consecutive victories this year.

Hamidin’s commitment to bringing success to the national team, besides his involvement as a member of the International Football Federation (FIFA) Council 2023-2027, is admired by Malaysian Chinese Football Association (MCFA) president Datuk Wilson Lau.

“I see it from two aspects, the first is the way he (Hamidin) helped the Harimau Malaya squad to be in the 137th position, the decision to bring in a coach from South Korea was a brave and accurate one, he (Hamidin) knows the required standards.

“Secondly in terms of FIFA, he is the representative of Malaysia and Asia as a Council Member, this is a great achievement, it did not come overnight and is proof of his management ability,” he told Bernama.

At the domestic level, Wilson said FAM under Hamidin’s leadership had been good and caring, especially towards the affiliates.

“He told me that the focus should be on the grassroots programme to unearth great talent for the future, and MCFA will give its full support (to Hamidin),” he said.

Meanwhile, football legend Datuk Santokh Singh also heaped praise on Hamidin, saying: “He (Hamidin) has done a good job, he’s trying his best to bring Malaysia back to the best level”.

Hamidin’s credibility and leadership – having helmed the FAM president’s post for two terms – has also been recognised by other parties, as he was named Malaysia’s chef de mission to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

For the record, Hamidin is the seventh FAM president and the first commoner to hold the position. – Bernama