Ex-JDT ace Safee Sali hails appointment of TMJ as FAM boss

Malaysia striker Safee Sali welcomed the imminent appointment of Tunku Sultan Ismail, who is set to become the new Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) supremo, after his rival Tan Sri Annuar Musa pulled out of the presidency race on Thursday.

The Johor Royal, also known as TMJ, will be officially confirmed as FAM's 15th president on Saturday, 84 years since the inaugural leader Sir Andrew Caldecott assumed the position in 1933.

Safee, who returned home from Manila along with his teammates on Thursday evening after the goalless friendly draw to Philippines, was full of praise for his former employer.

"I am happy with this situation. We now have a person who is genuinely interested in football to lead Malaysian football," said Safee.

"Hopefully, there will be plenty of positives and drastic changes made to the local football landscape, especially on the international front."

Safee was one of the marquee signings when TMJ was rebuilding Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) in 2013.

During his four-season spell until 2016, the stocky striker won seven trophies with JDT which included three league titles, two Charity Shields, an FA Cup and a maiden AFC Cup success in 2015.

After barely featuring last year, Safee returned to the Klang Valley to sign for PKNS FC for the 2017 campaign.

National coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee was also welcoming of the appointment of the JDT owner, who has repeatedly criticised his methods in the past.

"TMJ has good history, and has built an empire with JDT with success in the league and the AFC Cup. He has experience under his belt, and hopefully he can do more for the betterment of our football," Ong said.

Ong also reiterated the fact that he still has a job with the national team, despite intense speculation that his position will be on the line when TMJ takes over.

"It is up to the president if he wants me. I still have a job to do, and will continue with my scouting duties until our next game," he added.

TMJ had previously hinted former JDT boss Mario Gomez could become the next national coach.

Ong was also satisfied with the 0-0 draw away to the Philippines, despite his side being pegged back for large parts of the game.

"They are higher ranked than us and were playing on home ground, so for me overall, while it wasn't the result we wanted, there are plenty of positives to be taken from the game," he said.

Should Ong remain as national chief, he would have significant time for scouting duties as Malaysia's AFC Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea on March 28 was postponed to June 8, due to security concerns.