CEOs revel in football mania


  • Business
  • Monday, 05 Jun 2006

WITH the FIFA World Cup just around the corner, StarBiz journalists LEONG HUNG YEE, CHAN CHING THUT, SURAJ RAJ and LOONG TSE MIN gather comments from some of the country's top executives on the much talked-about tournament in Germany and on football in general. 

YUSLI MOHAMED YUSOFF 

Chief executive officer  

Bursa Malaysia Bhd 

 

France is the team to win this year because they have an exciting attacking line up plus they have to make up for their disappointing performance at the last World Cup.  

As for the player to watch out for, it is Thierry Henry. He has been in great form this season and he captains my favourite team! 

Nevertheless, England could emerge as the dark horse as they have quite a good team but have underperformed in the past few World Cups. Perhaps they may come good this time. 

I have been a keen football fan since my primary school days. Nowadays, I exchange notes about the English Premier League with my eldest son and daughter (both of whom, unfortunately, support the wrong team - Manchester United!) As a fan of Arsenal Football Club, I have supported them since 1969 and they are one of the best clubs in the world! 

Johan Cruyff of Holland is my all-time favourite player. I think he was the most exciting player to watch - lightning quick and excellent thinking and skills! 

I still play football although it is limited to indoor futsal game with friends. When I was younger, I used to play in the midfield position when I had more stamina to run around in the field. 

Watching Brazil trash Italy 4-1 in one of the finals of the World Cup in 1970 brought back fond memories. Brazil played an excellent attacking game and scored some great goals. 

KENNY GOH 

Chief executive officer 

Macro Kiosk Bhd 

 

Brazil is my favourite team not because they are favoured to win but because they do play very creative football. Brazil always deployed beautiful footwork and strategies during the game. I think Ronaldinho from Brazil will shine at this year's game. Brazil is great!  

On the other hand, I think England could have chance to win too. As to being a fan, I wonder if having original jerseys from 15 different teams competing in World Cup 2006 qualifies to be a football fan? ;-) 

Roberto Baggio from Italy is my favourite footballer though he will not be playing this time around. He has such wonderful talent that it utilises the different angles of the goal post to assist him in scoring as witness during the 1994 world cup. 

Fondest memories? What I remember the most was during the finals of the last World Cup. There were about 100 Brazil football fans cramped in a small cafe, and they celebrated when the team won.  

Whether strangers or friends, all were hugging each other, jumping around, singing and even dancing in techno style. All of us there were also dressed up in Brazil jerseys, face painted with yellow and green and some even with green dye hair. This is really fun! 

I played football when I am much younger way back schooling times. Probably due to my “well built” body structure, I played the role as a goalkeeper best. Nowadays, I am no longer the goalkeeper; I am more of a “midfielder” in the company. Ensuring support being given the to frontline as well as supporting the backliners. 

We are currently planning to organise a party for everyone in Macro Kiosk to watch the Finals together. 

 

MOGENS JOENCK 

Managing director 

Kenny Goh

Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd 

 

 

I am banking on England to lift the title this year but my favourite team is Brazil for their creativity in playing football. 

I expect Michael Ballack as the player to shine in this year's game but Steven Gerrard is my favourite player because he is extremely powerful and is an intelligent player. Unfortunately, I do not have any fond memory of the World Cup, but it is the European Championship in 1992 when my own country Denmark won the title... it was ‘a defining moment’! 

As a fan, I am passionate about football. I used to play as a midfielder when I was younger. 

Now that I am the managing director of Carlsberg, I see myself as manager of the team if I were playing in a match.  

In order to juggle my time between work and watching the match, I will be working harder during the day and enjoy watching and being part of the game when it is aired live, which is late at night in Malaysia. 

DATUK ABDUL WAHID OMAR Group chief executive officer 

Telekom Malaysia Bhd 

I'm hoping for England to win, but realistically I think Brazil will lift the World Cup.  

Mogens Joenick

The dark horse is Japan and possibly Ghana. Yes, would love to see these teams progress to quarterfinals!  

I am a rational fan, meaning I will not stay up to watch live matches except during weekends, for semis and final matches. My favourite football team is England.  

I suppose it's due to tradition, having studied in the UK before and been very much exposed to EPL until now.  

My favourite footballer is Ronaldinho. 

Extremely talented, great mastery of the ball, controls every game and scores great goals. Simply brilliant!  

Mexico 1990 was probably most memorable World Cup for me. That was when England lost to Argentina in the quarterfinal. 

Remember 'the head of Maradona, the hand of God'?  

I see myself as a midfielder captain in the company. The playmaker if you like. Feeding the balls to the strikers to score goals. Running back to lend support to our full backs when under attack.  

For the die-hard football fans among our staff, we encourage them to take leave to watch their favourite games – of course, subject to operational requirements.  

We certainly do not want them to still come to work after an early morning game and doze off in the office, or suffer from lack of concentration whilst working. 

However, we feel productivity will not be severely affected as we have sufficient work procedures in place to ensure our service levels do not suffer during this period.  

 

SYED ABDUL HAFIZ SYED ABU BAKAR 

Managing director 

Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd 

 

Years ago, I remember watching a live telecast in the kampung during a blackout, on a battery-run TV set! This is what I recall best about the World Cup. 

I am just passionate about football. My weekend agenda and schedule revolve around the timing of live EPL telecasts. My wife shares the same passion and she is an ardent fan of Manchester United, Holland, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Gabriel Heinze, Edwin van der Sar, you name it... 

I expect either Holland or England to win the cup this year, but Japan (or the samurai blues) could emerge as the dark horse. 

I like Holland because of the 3 vans (van Nistelrooy, van Persie and van der Sar). As English Premier League fans, I like England too and Japan is my favourite because of their structured passion. 

I do not see a need to schedule my work around the matches. My wife will always have the TV switched on and constantly update me with the latest results wherever I am in the world. For early morning games, she will wake me up to watch the last five minutes or when there is a goal scored. 

IDRIS JALA 

Managing director 

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) 

 

I like England to win this year. They have not won the World Cup for so many years. Although they are not the best team, they have a well-balanced team with players who can spring some surprises.  

Idris Jala

As for the dark horse, it is Ivory Coast - literally speaking! They have Didier Drogba and the team is on a high. They have nothing to lose and if they go out and play for fun like they would in a park, I think they could foil some of the top teams.  

I would like to see Lionel Messi emerge as the new star. He is currently playing for Barcelona. At 18 years of age, he's got excellent combative ball skills and flair.  

As a fan, I seldom miss a match in the English Premier League especially those involving Chelsea, unless I'm travelling or working. I enjoy watching games particularly how the various managers deploy different tactics to win.  

I am a Chelsea fan and I am supporting England because it has many Chelsea players in the team. England has some great players. They have a solid defence now with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, an excellent attacking middle field combination of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerard, and David Beckham. England has Ashley Cole, Michael Owen and Joe Cole. It's a pity Wayne Rooney is injured.  

My fondest memory of the World Cup was when Italy beat Brazil in 1982. I consider the Brazilian team as arguably the best of all time, with players such as Socrates, Zico, Junior and Falcao. What I remember most was how the diminutive Paolo Rossi almost single-handedly beat them with a goal hat trick.  

I will be watching the games here in Malaysia on TV instead of watching it in Germany. We have got lots of work to do in MAS under our business turnaround initiative and that has to take priority. However, I will be watching the big matches.  

MICHAEL LAI  

Chief executive officer 

TM Net Sdn Bhd 

 

Michael Lai

Brazil is still a strong team in contention this year even after having won the last World Cup. Besides having highly talented players, the team are mostly made of very seasoned and experienced players.  

I think Holland is the dark horse. The team seemed to have raised their game a notch this time around despite not even having qualified for the last World Cup. Being under fire for the numerous criticisms they received have only made them more determined than ever to prove themselves. Besides that, the team sports orange as their team colour, similar to our corporate colour, so I will definitely be rooting them on! 

I've been a big follower of the English Premier League for decades now and somehow I continue to have faith in them, especially in their strong team line-up this year. Besides players like Michael Owen, David Beckham, Ashley Cole and John Terry, Steven Gerard is a really strong and tactical player, many times being the playmaker for matches with Liverpool.  

Thierry Henry from France is still my all-time favourite - firstly because he plays for Arsenal. I am a die-hard fan of that club but also Henry has proven his capabilities time and time again. My fondest memory watching the game was watching the World Cup Final in 1998 between Brazil and France. France won based on penalty shoot-outs, after they had played extra time and still were at a draw. That was really heart-wrenching to see Brazil lose the Cup due to that. 

I was always playing defense - an inspiration from Malacca homeboy Soh Chin Aun who is known as one of the best defense player for Malaysia.  

I would be playing the midfielder position because as the leader of an organisation, you must have some of the qualities and capabilities of someone playing that position. This includes qualities such as knowing and understanding your opponent well; moving a step ahead of the competition through strong tactics or strategies; risks-taker as in having “the dare to-do” spirit; strategic planning abilities which is similar to a “play maker” role in football and thinking and reacting spontaneously and literally “on your feet” in football. 

The World Cup fever can be channelled positively in an organisation by bringing the entire organisation together, building camaraderie and most significantly in pulling together the enthusiasm, winning spirit and driving passion for not only the game but towards their work.  

 

 

DATUK TONY FERNANDES 

Chief executive officer 

AirAsia Bhd 

 

When it comes to football, I am a manic fan! In fact, I used to play as a striker. 

Tony Fernandes

I expect Brazil to take home the cup this year, but Ghana could emerge as the dark horse as they are physically powerful and have great players with European experience like Michael Essien. As for the player who is expected to shine, it is Ronaldinho. 

My favourite football team is West Ham United because it is not a team that spends a lot of money but develops players and plays with style. 

The match between Brazil and Italy in 1980 is not just the fondest (in memory) but the greatest game in football history!  

If I am a football player, I see myself as guiding my team from behind to achieve our goals, in relation to my position in the company. 

 

ABDUL RAHMAN ABU HANIFFA 

Director of public sector strategic engagements 

Microsoft Malaysia 

 

I am an avid fan who appreciates the game. The World Cup is a period of time when passion transcends cultures and differences.  

Abdul Rahman Abu Haniff

As I am a fan of the Dutch, my top pick for World Cup 2006 would be Holland. Their “management style” is to treat the game as one, which embodies art and science. 

What makes Holland so pleasing to watch is their spontaneous and single-minded approach in seeking victory.  

My favourite football club would be Arsenal.  

Growing up in London as a child, my uncle gave me the club's jersey as an initiation into Arsenal's fan base. It was also the jersey that was used by Arsenal when they won their famous ‘double’: the League Championship and the FA Cup in the 1970/71 season. 

My fondest memory of the World Cup was when Diego Maradona scored against England in Mexico 1986.  

He dribbled past several desperate tackles from the halfway line before coolly slotting the ball past Peter Shilton into the net.  

It showed to the world that one man could make a difference and under Maradona’s creative brilliance, Argentina went on to claim their second World Cup.  

I played the game as midfielder as I found myself quite good in reading the game and in strategising how the team could move forward.  

I don’t think the World Cup period would be disruptive to working Malaysians. On the contrary, I it may result in greater productivity! 

 

SHAHRIL RIDZA RIDZUAN 

Shahril Ridza Ridzuan

Group managing director and chief executive officer 

Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd  

 

I've been a long time supporter of Liverpool. 

The team that I always tend to watch playing would be England. But in terms of the top pick for the World Cup this year, I think Italy would have a good shot. They are a very good team that performs under pressure and historically they have won it before, so there is some basis for them to go for it again. 

For the dark horse, I like the Czech Republic. They are good players and I think they probably have the potential to do well. The Dutch tend to only look good on paper. 

When I watched England play against Argentina during World Cup 1998, Michael Owen scored a great goal for England. It was memorable for me because he was a Liverpool player. 

I would liken my corporate role to that of a midfielder. It's where I see myself in terms of deciding which way to go with the ball at any point in time. 

My favourite player at this moment would be Steven Gerrard. He's probably the only real world-class player right now because of his ability to win matches for the club (Liverpool). 

 

IDRIS JALA 

Managing director 

Malaysia Airlines  

 

I like England to win this year. They have not won the World Cup for so many years.  

Although they are not the best team, they have a well-balanced team with players who can spring some surprises.  

As for the dark horse, it is Ivory Coast - literally speaking! They have Didier Drogba and the team is on a high. They have nothing to lose and if they go out and play for fun like they would in a park, I think they could foil some of the top teams.  

I would like to see Lionel Messi emerge as the new star. He is currently playing for Barcelona. At 18 years of age, he's got excellent combative ball skills and flair.  

As a fan, I seldom miss a match in the English Premier League especially those involving Chelsea, unless I'm travelling or working. I enjoy watching games particularly how the various managers deploy different tactics to win.  

I am a Chelsea fan and I am supporting England because it has many Chelsea players in the team. England has some great players.  

They have a solid defence now with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, an excellent attacking middle field combination of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerard, and David Beckham. England has Ashley Cole, Michael Owen and Joe Cole. It's a pity Wayne Rooney is injured.  

My fondest memory of the World Cup was when Italy beat Brazil in 1982. I consider the Brazilian team as arguably the best of all time, with players such as Socrates, Zico, Junior and Falcao. What I remember most was how the diminutive Paolo Rossi almost single-handedly beat them with a goal hat trick.  

I will be watching the games here in Malaysia on TV instead of watching it in Germany.  

We have got lots of work to do in MAS under our business turnaround initiative and that has to take priority.  

However, I will be watching the big matches. 

For World cup football stories, pictures, videos and other items from the AP Wire click here AP-Wire

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