Nelo Vingada 'needs two years' to transform Malaysia as head coach

Nelo Vingada will need at least two years to transform the Malaysia national team, according to his new employers.

The 64-year-old from Portugal will oversee his first match when the Malaysians play Lebanon in an AFC Asian Cup qualifier at Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru on June 13.

Vingada is familiarising himself with the 26-man squad after getting to work soon after arriving on May 23.

"Success will not come easily. Vingada will need two years to transform the team. I think in this two years we will see huge changes in all aspects," Malaysia team manager Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal told the New Straits Times.

"Of course, we want to beat Lebanon, but we have to understand it is only the first game under Vingada."

His task will be made much easier after Lebanon striker Mohammed Ghaddar -- the top scorer in the Malaysia Super League who now plays for champions Johor Darul Ta'zim -- was dropped for the game on his club home ground in a stunning decision.

The former Saudi Arabia head coach, who won the Asian Cup in 1996, has drawn praise from the players for his tactical aptitude and personal touch.

He was also the assistant to Carlos Queiroz when Portugal claimed consecutive U20 world titles in 1989 and 1991. And he won the Korean double in the 2010 season with FC Seoul.

However, in his last four jobs -- in China, Iran, Portugal and India -- he has been less successful, with a winning rate of just 28 percent over the past six years.

Subahan, who is also the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) deputy-president, advised the sceptics to reserve their comments ahead of their opening Asian Cup qualifying match.

"Everyone should support the team, as we have a tough match against Lebanon. Critics are only good at criticising. They should instead support the team and the positive efforts taken by TMJ since he became president," he said.

Subahan was also the team manager when Malaysia won the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. Datuk K. Rajagobal was the coach and his unfancied side's success changed the landscape of Malaysian football with more fans taking notice of the team after the disaster of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup on home soil.

But much has changed since then, with the Harimau Malaya sliding into a free fall with sub-par performances. Last November, Malaysia crashed out of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup in the group stage for only the third time in their history.

That disappointing performance, with just one victory in three matches, would ultimately result in Datuk Ong Kim Swee being replaced by Vingada to chart the country's fortunes.

Ong has since been tasked to handle the U22 side in the men's football at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.

Before that, Ong will also have to navigate the team at the 2018 AFC U23 qualifiers in Thailand in July. The other teams in their Group H are Thailand, Indonesia and Mongolia.