Kelana Jaya : Interim boss Ong Kim Swee was confirmed on Monday afternoon as Malaysia national coach for the next two years.
Ong was chosen ahead of ex-Kelantan and Johor Darul Ta'zim coach Bojan Hodak and ex-Sarawak and Kedah boss Robert Alberts. The trio all underwent separate interviews at Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) headquarters at Kelana Jaya.
45-year-old Ong had held the job on a temporary basis since September after previously being interim coach when K. Rajagobal stepped down at the end of 2013.
The former national team defender has been given the brief to raise Malaysia's current FIFA ranking of 171st in the world -- their worst ever which is 23 spots below neighbours Singapore -- and to win November's AFF Suzuki Cup on home soil.
Former Under-23 boss Ong won the 2011 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and had worked within the Harimau Muda setup for more than five years. Along with assistant coach Brad Maloney, he argued that he could further develop the same core of young players as they reached their mid and late 20s.
His next competitive assignment will be the conclusion of the second round of AFC World Cup qualifying in March, having overseen a slight improvement after taking over from Dollah Salleh in September when they suffered a record 10-0 defeat to United Arab Emriates.
With Malaysia having no chance of continuing their progress towards Russia 2018 by moving into the third round of AFC qualification, he will focus on helping the Tigers book their place in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in United Arab Emirates.
The Malaysians haven't appeared in the regional showcase since 2007 when they were co-hosts and suffered three heavy defeats in the group stages.
Earlier this month, German coach Frank Bernhardt took over from Ong as Malaysia U23 boss.