KUALA LUMPUR – Kedah want coach Tan Cheng Hoe to remain in the hot seat next year and will discuss his contract renewal once he returns from holiday.
The newly crowned Malaysia Cup champions have seen a rise in fortunes in the three years Cheng Hoe has been in charge.
His reign yielded a fifth Malaysia Cup trophy and first title since the state’s 2015 Premier League success.
“We are still in the early stages of deciding on contract renewals, but the Kedah Football Association’s (KFA) executive committee are intent on tabling a contract extension for Cheng Hoe,” said KFA general secretary Datuk Aminuddin Omar.
Apart from the coach, Aminuddin said out of their three imports – Shane Smeltz, Thiago Augusto Fernandes and Liridon Krasniqi – the FA have taken a liking to Krasniqi.
“It’s still early, but we are thinking of keeping him for another year. He is good for the team,” added Aminuddin.
All three players scored five goals apiece in the Malaysia Cup. Four of Krasniqi’s goals came from dead ball situations (three penalties, one free kick). He also holds the honour of playing in every minute of their Cup campaign.
In the final, Cheng Hoe had eight Under-23 players in the squad, including three – goalkeeper Mohd Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim (20), midfielder Mohd Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik (20) and defender Mohd Syawal Nordin (22) – in the starting line-up.
The other youngsters are Abdul Halim Saari (21), Muhd Farhan Roslan (19), Muhd Syafiq Ahmad (20), Muhd Hanif Mat Dzahir (22) and Mohd Asri Mardzuki (22).
Kedah’s rise has not been easy.
They had to put up with distractions early in the season when former Kedah Menteri Besar and KFA president Mukhriz Mahathir resigned from his post amid a political crisis and sponsors lost faith in them.
Then the RM30 million sponsorship deal between cosmetics company D’Herbs and Kedah fell apart.
Amidst all these off field problems, the team were able to finish third in their first year back in the Super League.
“Cheng Hoe is a former player who has been involved with football for many years. The experience has held him in good stead and he has brought the team together with his humility and flair,” said Aminuddin.
“We are all proud of the players for what they have accomplished,” he added.
KFA are also planning a trip to Europe for pre-season. They have yet to decide where as they look for a destination that is not too cold.
In two weeks time the Malaysia Cup trophy will make its way to the 12 districts in the state for the people to view in person.