PETALING JAYA: The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) today announced the appointment of national team assistant head coach E. Elavarasan as the new head coach of the national Under-23 (U-23) squad.

Elavarasan will be assisted by Juan Torres Garrido of Spain as assistant head coach, local coach Kris Yong (goalkeeper coach) and two South Korean coaches namely Jihyeon Park (fitness coach) and Lee Jeyoon as performance analysis coach.

“I’m very honoured to accept this difficult task because it’s not an easy task to take care of but a big thank you to FAM President who believed in our abilities and also (thanks) to coach Kim (national head coach, Kim Pan Gon),” he said during a press conference at Wisma FAM here, today.

Commenting on the two tasks currently being undertaken, the 60-year-old Selangor-born coach said he was ready to give his best in helping Pan Gon to gather the best players in the senior squad and at the same time prepare quality young players.

The former PDRM FC and Sarawak United FC coach said in order to get high-quality players, he and his coaching staff will focus more comprehensively on identifying talent.

“Identifying these talents is very important to the future of the national team because the core of the players came from talents we have from the national U-23, so I think it’s a huge task,” he said.

Therefore, he hoped that all parties, including clubs, can give good cooperation by releasing their respective players who are required for assignments with the U-23 squad.

Elavarasan was also excited to take on the great challenge of bringing the national U-23 squad to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“We are ranked 26th in Asia (and) only three teams (from Asian) will qualify for the Olympics. So when you are ranked 26 you have a very tough job to prepare the team into that stage or at least to the final round but we will try our best, we are always trying to push the players to the next level,” he said.

In the meantime, FAM Technical Director Scott O’Donell said Elavarasan’s appointment was to ensure the uniformity of the game approach used between the national squad and the youth side.

“I think the appointment of Elavarasan is in line with the playing style and philosophy of the first team...his main job is to ensure there is a bigger pool of players to be selected by Pan Gon. That’s the reason why we appointed him as head coach,” he said.

Elavarasan, who was appointed as the assistant head coach of the national squad last March, enjoyed success on the international stage with the Harimau Malaya (national squad) that ended a 42-year wait to qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup last June.

The appointment of Elavarasan is to fill the vacancy left by former U-23 head coach Brad Maloney after the Australian and FAM parted ways through a mutual separation scheme agreed by both parties last July. - Bernama