KUALA LUMPUR: E. Elavarasan has stepped down as head coach of the Malaysian Under-23 team, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) announced today.

FAM secretary-general Datuk Noor Azman Rahman said this was decided after recent discussions between Elavarasan and FAM president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin on the future direction of the U-23 team, fresh after the Harimau Muda squad’s showing in the recent Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers 2024.

Noor Azman said the 61-year-old coach has agreed to focus on his tasks as Kim Pan Gon’s assistant coach in the national senior squad, paving the way for a new coach to prepare the young Tigers for the Under-23 Asian Cup in Qatar in April next year.

“Elavarsan’s successor will only be announced after evaluations and discussions with the relevant parties,” he said in a statement today.

He said Hamidin had also conveyed his highest appreciation for Elavarasan’s contributions in guiding Harimau Muda into the U-23 Asian Cup, despite its 0-1 loss to Thailand in the final qualifying match to Thailand on Sept 12.

Elavarasan was announced as the national U-23 head coach on Sept 1 last year, replacing Brad Maloney, while at the same time holding the position of Pan Gon’s assistant in the national senior squad.

He was appointed based on the basis that he would be familiar with Pan Gon’s coaching system, which FAM felt would be helpful in facilitating continuity between the senior squad and the national U-23 squad.

The national U-23 squad successfully won the 2023 Merlion Cup in Singapore last March, as well as qualified for the semi-finals of the 2023 AFF U-23 Championship in Rayong, Thailand in August.

They qualified for the 2024 Asian U-23 Cup after emerging as one of the top four second-placed teams in the qualifiers played in Chonburi, Thailand recently. - Bernama