Nelo Vingada resigns as Malaysia head coach after winless seven months
Malaysia head coach Nelo Vingada resigned on Wednesday following just seven winless months in charge.
The 64-year-old Portuguese issued a statement through the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), saying that he had to "take responsibility" after a wretched sequence or results saw the Harimau Malaya fall out of contention for qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
Vingada leaves with the national team at an all-time low in the FIFA rankings, having lost six and drawn one of his seven matches at the helm.
"After discussions with the President of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), HRH Major General Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, Crown Prince of Johor, I take responsibility for the performance of the national team," Vingada said.
"With this sense of responsibility, I hereby announce to relinquish my position as national head coach with immediate effect and the Tunku President himself has also accepted my decision.
"I would also like to inform that my two assistants that I brought along, Joao Arnaldo Correia De Carvalho and Francisco Jose Bruto Da Costa have also resigned from their respective positions as national assistant coach and national fitness coach respectively.
"Finally, I like to take this opportunity to hope and pray for Malaysian football to shine again and that I was proud to be part of Malaysian football in this relatively short period of time."
It is a huge disappointment for the FAM president Tunku Ismail Idris (TMJ) who appointed Vingada after a deal for former Johor Darul Ta'zim boss Mario Gomez fell through.
Home defeats to West Asian sides Lebanon and Syria in Vingada's first two games in charge were hardly surprising. But the 1-0 friendly loss in Myanmar in September was a discouraging sign given they were up against Southeast Asian opponents.
The two games that define Vingada's time in charge, however, were the two AFC Asian Cup qualifiers against Hong Kong.
In the home tie, Vingada managed to avoid defeat, but a 1-1 draw was not the result that was required to kickstart their campaign. There was a loss of discipline at the end, with two red cards, and there were also some ugly scenes as the referee was harassed after awarding Hong Kong a late penalty, which they missed.
In the return match in Hong Kong, discipline was again a problem as skipper Safiq Rahim was sent off for a rash tackle with the score at 0-0. The hosts went on to win 2-0, leaving Malaysian qualification hopes in the balance.
Due to a diplomatic dispute with North Korea, Malaysia had to play their double header against the Koreans in Buriram, Thailand last month.
Needing four points from the two games to keep their hopes alive, the Malaysians were completely outclassed as the lost 4-1 twice.
TMJ will now lead the search for a replacement to lead Malaysia into 2018 and the AFF Suzuki Cup. He will hope that the next man will last longer as the national team aims to restore pride after a dismal year.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK