Portuguese veteran Nelo Vingada was named as Malaysia’s new coach on Monday, putting him in line for what could be a politically fraught debut in North Korea.
Much-travelled Vingada, nicknamed “Professor”, joins from India’s NorthEast United, whom he coached to fifth place in last year’s Indian Super League.
The 64-year-old comes on board as Malaysia appeals against playing an Asian Cup qualifier in next month North Korea, claiming players’ safety is at risk.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has expressed security worries after a furious diplomatic row over the murder by nerve agent of the North Korean leader’s half-brother in Malaysia.
“I wanted the coach to also be a teacher. With the national team, it is not all about coaching but also to educate our players,” FAM president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said in a statement.
“After having seen numerous coaches, both local and foreign, doing their stuff, my gut instinct tells me that Vingada is the right man for the job. I may be wrong but only time will tell.”
Vingada’s coaching CV includes brief stints with Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and jobs in Iran, China and South Korea.
FAM’s appeal to play the June qualifier against North Korea at a neutral venue is currently being considered by the Asian Football Confederation.
The killing of Kim Jong-Nam — the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un — in February sparked a diplomatic row which saw both countries banning each other’s citizens from leaving, and withdrawing their ambassadors.
The Asian Football Confederation announced last week that the game would go ahead on June 8 after Malaysia confirmed it had eased travel restrictions. – Agence France-Presse