Man at His Best

What I've Learned: Lim Teong Kim

Meet the Malaysian football coach who led a young team to victory in Germany.

BY Kam Raslan | Mar 27, 2016 | Fitness & Health

Kim Mun

Football coach, 52, coaches Malaysia’s under 13s team that won the Iber cup.

The role of the coach is not just about football. The whole team chemistry must also be managed because this will make a team successful or otherwise.

Self-belief is very important. What kind of personality are you? I want players who have confidence and self-belief. Body language is the most important thing. You must show that you are as confident as your opponent. You can’t show any weak points at that stage, it’s too late because the Europeans are always confident especially if they’re a big nation playing a small nation—they’ll eat you up.

Some footballers don’t have good work ethic or self-belief, and this was the problem that I had with some players at Bayern Munich. They were actually better than Thomas Müller. When he was young, he wasn’t as talented as the rest of the players, but because of self-belief, hard work and work ethic, he was able to achieve his dream. He never stops running.

We need intelligent players who don’t only take the directive. I want them to think. God gave us a brain to think, so we must think. Does it make sense what the coach says? German players are this way. You tell them, they will think, and if they don’t agree, they’ll speak out. They will ask you questions and you must have reasons prepared, and this is good.

In Malaysia they don’t speak. Here, we have a bunch of very disciplined boys, but there’s too much suppression before they came to us.

During my 12 years in Bayern Munich, I had the opportunity to work with all the top young players and I have seen what has come out. They are all national players and many have won the World Cup. I worked with Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos, Nicola Sansone, Roberto Soriano and so many players in European first and second divisions.

Before 2000, there was a German style. It was very defensive, they score one goal, and then they defended in numbers. After the debacle of the 2000 World Cup, they revamped and brought in young coaches liken Jürgen Klinsmann and Joachim Low, and they changed the game. Now the game is more about transition: ball possession, losing the ball, winning the ball, and then transition.

In youth development, winning is not important. In the senior team, you just want to win, and you don’t care if you score with your toes, head or nose. But in youth development, it’s different because you want to see if they can play football. And it must be a cultured football.

It is difficult to teach players to have a football brain and see patterns, because it’s very complex and making decisions in a split second is not easy. The same pattern will never happen again, but you can teach the players to think ahead through positioning. You must position yourself in such a way to receive the ball so that you are controlling the situation.

When I played for Malaysia [1982-1991], we were good in Southeast Asia but that’s it. We won the SEA Games, but the SEA Games is nothing much. I want to set a standard for the boys. Winning the SEA Games should come naturally. We have to set a different target, a different level to achieve, and our target right now is the Under 17s World Cup in 2017. I want to go to a different level, I want to challenge the boys, and I want to challenge myself.

When I say the boys played well, it means tactically they executed the plan according to how I saw it and how we wanted to play the game. But if it’s just sporadic, one minute good and two minutes no good, I will classify it as a bad game, even if we won.

The best game was against West Ham [historically, the best youth academy in England], but only one half. We won the game 2-1 ,but I’m only happy with one half. We could have finished the game in the first half 5-0; they missed so many chances. There were so many one-to-ones, but they didn’t score. I said to the boys, “You come here and you kicked their ass. Why are you still questioning your ability?” German kids would never do this. They will walk all over you.

Louis van Gaal doesn’t speak much, but I don’t really like the way his Dutch coaching staff do things. They showed little respect to people who had served Bayern Munich for many years. They treated us like we don’t know anything about football.

Jurgen Klopp is a good coach. I am sure he will be successful at Liverpool. Give him time and he will definitely transform them into a winning team.

You must prepare before you do something because we are professionals. If you go and do something without preparing then you’re an amateur.

I don’t support any team. When I was at Bayern Munich, I supported them, but not now, because I don’t work for them anymore. I only support certain players at Bayern Munich. Now I support National Football Development Programme (NFDP).