ALAN VEST, in his three-year tenure, has taken Sarawak from the backwaters
of Malaysian soccer to the forefront.
If he decides to extend his contract with the Sarawak FA, the
possibility of the East Malaysian State progressing to become a major
force cannot be dismissed.
But the question most Sarawak fans from Kuching to Miri are asking is:
Will Vest prolong his stay as coach?
Vest, after having steered Sarawak to runnersup spot in the First
Division and semifinals of the Malaysia Cup this season, might have made
up his mind about his future.
Or maybe not yet.
Whatever decision Vest comes up with - his answer to the FA would
probably be sometime this week - it could point to where Sarawak are
"I have to seriously think about a few things before giving my answer,"
said Vest after watching his side lose 2-1 to Singapore in the semifinal
second leg at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Among the `few things' are offers from other States as well as a
national coaching job in another country.
But Vest stressed that money or the need for a change would not be the
criteria for his decision.
"I have enjoyed working in Sarawak. They are not only a nice bunch but
also, I was given a free hand as coach, which is a rarity in Malaysian
soccer," said Vest.
"I have no complaints about the people I work with, but there are other
factors which I must seriously consider."
He cited these factors as:
* WHETHER he will be allowed to retain the players he wants and whether
the Sarawak FA can afford them if they seek a hike in salary;
* WHETHER the FA can afford to sign the replacements he require;
* WHETHER the present players - the foreigners and three Malacca-born
players - will still be available for Sarawak; and
* THE fact that anymore infusion of players from West Malaysia might not
go down well with local sentiments.
Vest said if he were to remain, it would have to be for another three
"I don't believe in short-term contracts because nothing much can be
achieved in that sort of time," he said.
"There is still a lot to be done in Sarawak soccer and although I have
been very critical about Sarawak's development programme, I have realised
that this State have a short soccer history.
"They don't have enough clubs for coaches and players to emerge or a
progressive League to cultivate the interests of players.
"This is a growing State in soccer and obviously, it will take some time
before it catches up with the rest.
"There has been a stronger following in recent years and hopefully, this
will mean something."