Tuesday, October 25, 2016
That's That For Mat Zan Mat
It was party time in Melaka as the city celebrated the local football team's return to the top flight of Malaysian football after an absence of 10 years. 35,000 fans celebrated long in to the balmy night after seeing their side draw 1-1 with bottom side Sime Darby. Yes, they needed a late, late equaliser to save their blushes against a side which had managed just one point on its travels all season but no once cared. Melaka were back with the big boys.
Twelve months earlier and Melaka were celebrating a return to the Premier League after the ignominy of five seasons in the FAM League. Heady days for Melaka whose only previous silverware had been back in 1983. Back to back trophies for the first time in their history, they had blitzed all comers during a phenomenal campaign which had see free scoring ex Persib striker Ilija Spasojevic net 24 goals.
The day after the 1-1 draw with Sime Darby there were extended celebrations but there was also a notable absence. Mat Zan Mat Aris, a member of the all conquering Kuala Lumpur side of the late 1980s, stayed away. The coach who had been the guiding light behind Melaka's recent successes had been told his services were no longer needed. In fact his contract had expired in August but he had stuck around to help the team finish the job he had set out to do.
Now Melaka were back in the top flight the club officials decided they no longer needed Mat's services. Football can be a brutal business where success by definition is fleeting and coaches go into clubs wondering how long they will last before they are told to clear their desks. But surely a successful coach need have no such worries? Apparently not.
'There are no negative reasons why we did not want to renew Mat Zan's contract,' said a senior club official. 'We just want to try a new coach and some fresh air in to the team.'
He also said 16 players from the squad would not be retained for next season including some of the foreign contingent and added the football club were not duty bound to extend Mat Zan's contract and if he wasn't happy with what was happening after his contract expired he could have left.
Perhaps Mat Zan felt a b it of loyalty to his players, to his team and to the club. Perhaps he felt he had started the journey, he wanted to end it. But there is no loyalty in football and Melaka, in their wisdom, have decided they need to face life in the Super League with a new man at the helm. Perhaps the club feel they want a younger coach, one with a sexier image.
Whatever. It is though a shame the man who has brought unrivalled success to this football outpost should have been treated so shoddily. Only time will tell if the club have acted with too much haste.