LOSING to Sime Darby FC in the FA Cup semi-finals proved costly for Mat Zan Mat Aris who has been temporarily relieved of his duty as Terengganu coach yesterday.
The 54-year-old, who took over from Irfan Bakti late last season, is now on a two-week leave while his assistant Khalid Mat Dahan has been appointed caretaker coach during his absence, said Terengganu FA general secretary Abdullah Salleh.
Abdullah said Khalid will be in charge of the team against Perak at home today and when they travel to Hong Kong to play their last AFC Cup group F match against Kitchee on Wednesday.
"It was not the easiest of decision to ask Mat Zan to go on leave but the council meeting which was extended into the wee hours of the morning had to take action after Terengganu failed to qualify for the FA Cup final.
"We are the defending champions and we are not supposed to be kicked out of the tournament at this stage, at least not by Sime Darby FC, a lower league outfit," he said.
The pressure began to mount for the former Pos Malaysia coach in February when Terengganu drew 0-0 with Johore FC at home on March 31 before they were routed 6-1 by Selangor in Shah Alam a week later.
But victory over Lions XII in the FA Cup quarter-finals and a win over Negri Sembilan in the league did ease the pressure a little for Mat Zan until they lost to Hong Kong's Kitchee and Singapore's Tampines Rovers in the AFC Cup home matches.
The disgruntled home supporters began demanding for the resignations of Mat Zan and Terengganu FA president Datuk Che Mat Jusoh after the loss to Tampines Rovers but it escalated into a riot after Terengganu lost 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final first-leg at home.
Abdullah said Mat Zan did well to steer Terengganu into the second round of the AFC Cup with a 6-2 win over Vietnam's Song Lam Nghe An but the coach was also expected to take Terengganu into the FA Cup final.
"He failed to do just that and we are now contemplating if we should look for a new coach although Mat Zan has a two-year contract with us," said Abdullah who admitted that former Kelantan coach Peter Butler is interested in the job.