Saturday, July 14, 2007

Malaysian football: down in the pits

Malaysian soccer is really down in the pits, where one can go down no lower. And it really stinks down in the pits, you know.

Just a while ago we got clobbered 5 – 0 by Uzbekistan in the Asian Cup 2007 match. That follows on the 5 – 1 slaughtering at the hands of China two days earlier.

In the 1960’s and 70’s Malaysia was a power to be reckoned with as far as soccer is concerned. We were the first Asian nation to organize an annual cup tournament. The Merdeka Cup – mooted by the Tunku as a celebration and reminder of Malaya’s independence in 1957 – was duly emulated by a string of other nations.

Those days we used to trash Japan and Korea. They might have had Kim Jae Han and Kamamoto as weapons in their armoury. But we had our Super Mokh up front, and a stable back ably marshalled by Towkay Soh Chin Aun.

The Malaysian team was well supported, in fact adored, by the public. I remember making the long trip to Kuala Lumpur all the way from Bota Kanan, Perak, with my father just to catch our heroes in action. If not, then we would be huddled around our trusty old transistor radio, together with our next door neighbours, to follow the games live.

But just look at where Japan and Korea are now. They have reached the World Cup Finals several times over. Whilst we are left, nay, stranded, behind. The likes of Vietnam and the Philippines who never even knew what a soccer ball looks like up until a few years ago have all managed to beat us. While we were once feared by Korea and Japan, nowadays even tiny Brunei fancy their chances whenever they meet us.

Shameful, embarrassing, scandalous. These are words that come to mind when we talk about the current state of Malaysian soccer.

How have we come to this? In one word: MIS-MANAGEMENT.

When the current head honcho and his band of merry men took the helm of Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) in the early 1980s, that was the day when the rot started. They are not footballers. Never have been. They just fancy themselves as football aficionados. They don’t really love soccer. To them it’s just a hobby, something to muse them. It has all to do with the fat salaries and allowances, and power, that go with helming the biggest sporting body in the land.

I would say get rid of them. The whole lot! They’ve had their chances. They’ve been at it for more then two decades, and they’ve outlived their ‘sell-by’ dates. So it’s getting to be really stinky.

Please go. Malaysian soccer fans deserve better.

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