Malaysia sack Sathianathan

Malaysia sacked B. Sathianathan as national football coach, less than two weeks after the struggling Southeast Asian team lost to the United Arab Emirates in 2011 AFC Asian Cup qualifying.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) also removed team manager Soh Chin Aun, the official Bernama news agency reported. The decision was made during a meeting chaired by FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah.

"The meeting... unanimously agreed to end Sathianathan's contract with one month's notice for a number of reasons, while Soh Chin Aun's service will stop immediately," FAM deputy president Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad said. Redzuan declined to state why Sathianathan and Soh were sacked.

Malaysia was roundly beaten by the UAE on 21 January, going down 5-0. In December, the Malaysian team crashed out of the Southeast Asia 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup in the group stages. There were reports at the time that Malaysia would appoint a new foreign coach.

However, FAM said Sathianathan should not be blamed for the team's poor performance in the AFF Suzuki Cup and said they wanted him to stay for another year. Malaysia has had a number of foreign coaches over the past five decades including Frenchman Claude Le Roy and Hungarian Bertalan Bicskei.

The national team has fallen a long way since the heady days of the 1970s and 1980s, when they regularly beat Japan and South Korea on the field and reached two Olympics. The side's disintegration has been blamed on poor management, cronyism, corruption, a lack of government support and the absence of any grassroots nurturing of talent.