The ex-Perth Glory midfielder masterminded a 3-0 win over Australia for Malaysia at the AFF U-18 Championships in Vietnam on Tuesday night to underline his coaching credentials and the rapid rise in the stature of south-east Asian football.
Following on from the recent 3-0 loss suffered by Australia’s U-15s against Malaysia, the result is the latest warning sign to FFA on the investment and commitment required to keep pace with burgeoning nations in the region.
“I’m taking things as they come but obviously it would be good to coach in my homeland at some point if the opportunity arose,” said Maloney.
“But at this stage I’m very happy where I am and doing what I’m doing.
“It’s a great challenge working with the boys here, plus doubling up as the assistant with the U-23s and I’m really enjoying that.”
Maloney believes the result is further proof of the narrowing gap between Asia’s emerging and established powers.
“I think south-east Asian nations have to be respected,” he added.
“There are a lot of good players here who maybe don’t get enough credit at times for the ability they have.
“I have good players here (having recently taken charge) and we’re always trying to identity more talent.
“For the short preparation we’ve had in this tournament the team has come a long way.”
Maloney described coaching against his own country as “surreal” - but he’d done his homework and was all too aware of how van Egmond’s side would set up and how to exploit some of their weaknesses.
“Its a funny one playing against your own country but I’ve been given this role with this team and I’m happy for the opportunity,” he said.
“Our players executed on the park what we’d practiced in training and got the result. It was very satisfying.
“We had a fair idea how Australia would play, having also watched them earlier in the tournament.
“They’re a very good team, very physical and quick and well educated.
“I still expect them to go on in this tournament. They’re still the team to beat.”
It was Australia’s first loss in their group - made up with six nations with the top two progressing to the semi-finals.
Previously they thrashed Cambodia 5-1, cruised past Vietnam 4-1 and got the better of Thailand 3-1.
Malaysia lost their opener 1-0 to Vietnam but followed up with a 3-1 win over Singapore, a 3-0 success against Cambodia before eclipsing Australia.