THE Sultan of Pahang wants to put Malaysian soccer on the right footing
for the next millennium before stepping down as FAM president.
Speculation was rife that Sultan Ahmad Shah would quit his FAM post
sometime this month to concentrate on his duties as Asian Football
Confederation (AFC) president.
But Sultan Ahmad dismissed such talk after chairing yesterday's FAM
Sultan Ahmad, replying in jest to queries from the Press about his
intentions to quit, quipped: "Where have you heard this?
"I will step down when the time is right ... unless my deputy (looking
at Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen) wants to take over."
That saw Ritahuddeen animatedly dismissing the suggestion.
It was earlier speculated that Sultan Ahmad's son, Tengku Abdullah, the
Tengku Mahkota of Pahang, would be the likely successor.
Incidentally, it was Tengku Abdullah who had said in Vietnam that his
father could make an announcement pertaining to his position in FAM at
Tengku Abdullah, however, was not present at the meeting, having been
admitted to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital yesterday morning after
Sultan Ahmad said: "I will step down. I am definitely not indispensable.
Besides, I am not getting any younger.
"But I will do it at the right time. At this point I am still the
"I want to leave the association honourably. There are a few things I
would like to see happen to Malaysian soccer and I believe we will get off
on the right note for the next millennium."
Sultan Ahmad said from the information of coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim,
there is hope for the national team although they did not have a good
outing in the Dunhill Cup in Vietnam where they lost to South Korea (3-0)
and China (7-1).
He added that the present national players do not lack passion or desire
to do well.
"At least this is the feedback I got from the coach. What the players
lack are international Grade A matches. We have taken note of the matter
and are acting on it."
The national team will play at least one international Grade A match
every month with immediate effect. They will also see action in an
international quadrangular in Malaysia before August's Brunei SEA Games.
Asked why he does not intend to head FAM in the next millennium, Sultan
Ahmad said: "I have been around for 14 years and it is time for someone
else to lead FAM.
"But, like I said, I am confident the game in this country will reach a
new level soon and that will certainly make me happy.
"For now, let us all, including the Press, work as one to ensure that
the game moves up.
"I also feel that without the foreigners this year, more local talent
will surface. We have done everything possible to ensure that the M-League
will not be affected by the absence of the foreigners. I believe it will
be an exciting season."