Aussies reconnecting with Malaysian football

Malaysian football is reconnecting with Australia as it prepares for the introduction of the ASEAN Super League.

Malaysian football is reconnecting with Australia as it prepares for the introduction of the ASEAN Super League, with former Hyundai A-League coaches Mehmet Durakovic and David Mitchell returning to the country where they both enjoyed success towards the end of their playing careers.

Mitchell, who has been out of coaching since leaving Perth Glory two-and-a-half years ago, will take charge of Malaysian Premier League side Kedah next year, while Duakovic - sacked by Melbourne Victory two years ago - has accepted a three-year deal to return to his former club, Selangor.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, when some Malaysian clubs regularly attracted crowds of 30,000-40,000, Australian players were hugely popular and hugely successful. Two of those, Scott Ollerenshaw (Sabah) and Abbas Saad (Singapore/Johor), are now prominent television pundits. Durakovic and Mitchell were teammates at Selangor when they won the Malaysian Cup in 1995 (Mitchell scored the winning goal), while the likes of Alistair Edwards, Alan Davidson, Aytek Genc and Darren Stewart (all former Socceroos) were also prominent during the boom era of Malaysian football.

Now, after almost two decades in the doldrums, the Malaysian Premier League is again looking towards foreigners as a way of improving standards (former Argentine international Pablo Aimar has joined Johor) ahead of the proposed introduction of a regional 16-team ASEAN Super League, scheduled for 2015.