Malaysia eye quick appointment

Malaysia's national association have said that they want to replace sacked national football coach B. Sathianathan as soon as possible to try to reverse the team's steady decline.

Sathianathan and team manager Soh Chin Aun were fired yesterday, less than two weeks after Malaysia were thrashed by the United Arab Emirates in 2011 AFC Asian Cup qualifying. "Yesterday (Sunday) we made a decision to hire either a foreign or local coach for the national football team," Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) general secretary Azzuddin Ahmad has said.

"The candidate must have strong credentials. The coach must have guided a few champion teams," he added. "We want to fill the position as soon as possible."

The new coach would have to prepare the team for the Merdeka tournament in Malaysia in August and to play Uzbekistan in November in Asian Cup qualifying. Malaysia have suffered a dismal series of results, losing 5-0 to the UAE on 21 January. In December, they crashed out of the Southeast Asia Cup in the group stages, triggering reports that a new foreign coach would be named.

However, FAM insisted then that Sathianathan should not be blamed for the Suzuki Cup performance and they wanted him to stay for another year. Malaysia have 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 defeated Japan and South Korea and reached two Olympic Football Tournaments. 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.