Fall from grace? It's been a long hard tumble for the Malaysia football team in international tournaments beyond the South-East Asia level. The latest being the failure to qualify for the Asian Cup in Australia next year. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: It’s back to the drawing board ... and what’s new?
The post-mortem on the national team’s failure to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup Finals in Australia will be the talking point of the FA of Malaysia (FAM). Again, it will be all talk but no action.
The fact remains that even if Frenchman Philippe Troussier was on board ... the end result would have been more or less the same. The bottom-line is that we don’t have the material, yet.
On Wednesday, Malaysia’s Asian Cup Group D qualifying campaign ended in smoke. Interim coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s men edged Yemen 2-1 at the Sheikh Tahnoon Stadium in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but it was the end of the road despite their gallant effort playing with 10 men for most of the match.
Malaysia finished third in the standings with seven points while Middle East giants Bahrain and Qatar advanced convincingly to the Finals with 14 and 13 points respectively.
Failure was expected because it is nothing new as Malaysia have not been able to get a decent result in Asian level competitions for a long time now. We were just trying our luck to win the last slot as one of the best third-placed teams.
The question is when are we going to narrow the gap with the Asian giants? Japan, South Korea, Iran, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and China.
How are we to do well in the Asian Games with all the giants in the fray?
The more important question now is what’s next, FAM?
After back-to-back successes in the regional SEA Games in 2009 and 2011, we did not even make the podium in Myanmar last year.
What went wrong? RM10mil was spent on the Harimau Muda A (national Under-23) playing-cum-training stints in Slovakia and other parts of Europe.
The national team’s next assignment will be the AFF Suzuki Cup in November but Kim Swee’s immediate task is to get the Harimau Muda A boys ready for the Incheon Asian Games in September.
FAM should also consider the national Under-16 boys under S. Balachandran. They have qualified for the AFC Under-16 Finals in Bangkok in September. The top four will qualify for the Under-17 World Cup in Chile next year.
Balachandran’s boys won the ticket to the AFC final rounds last September, beating South Korea (2-0) en route to topping the qualifiers. Five months have passed and FAM have yet to come up with a comprehensive plan for them.
The boys have a good chance of qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup Finals in Chile but they desperately need exposure to competition to stay sharp. It would be better to invest in these young boys - they are the future.
Here is a chance for a Malaysian football team to qualify for a World Cup Finals - albeit an Under-17 tournament.