Local football is at an all-time low and something needs to be done immediately

1 Local fans throwing flares on the pitch during the World Cup qualifying match against Saudi Arabia in Shah Alam on Tuesday. 2 The scoreboard above says everything about the current state of Malaysian football.

UAE 10-0 Malaysia. Didnt you see it coming? It was in the making but 10-0? Certainly not! There is absolutely no reason for a 90-minute football match to end in a monstrous 10-0 defeat. The old cliche question which has been looming for the past three decades arises again. Who is to be blamed?

It is the worst defeat in the history of our football and it does not go by easily because we are a football-mad nation. Yes, mad is the word as I witnessed a horrific reaction from certain quarters of the fans on Tuesday in the game against Saudi Arabia.

They came out in large numbers and according to their very own words, “this action to try and suspend an international match is their very last resort after going through every channel in wanting a change from the Football Association of Malaysia” hence, we were treated to flair, fireworks and bazooka feast at the Shah Alam Stadium towards the end of the 90 minutes against Saudi Arabia, which could have ended up fatal with people running to save their lives.

Lets go way back before we focus to the run up we had before that absurd defeat to UAE.

Dollah Salleh’s appointment? Tengku Abdullah has said Dollah was not his cup of tea, which clearly indicates he wasn’t too favourable of the decision.

So why isn’t the committee that made the decision being questioned or put on the spot? How much valuation and thought process was given before making this decision and why did Dollah get the nod ahead of others?

Secondly, after a 6-0 embarassing defeat on your home soil against Palestine, what drastic measures were taken to improve the team? Nothing!

Most FA’s around the world would have sacked the coach immediately and majority of the players who played would have not worn the national colours again after such a dismal performance but here we saw the same man in charge and the same pool of players being rotated again for the match against UAE. It makes one wonder, why werent any changes made, isn’t there enough young quality pushing through? The answer is no, there isn’t enough which made the job of Dollah’s harder with only a handful of talent available. But then again, it is unacceptable to lose a football match 10-0 because there is always something called damage limitation.

Despite having Harimau Muda A,B and C, we failed to better the 2010 AFF winning squad which is perhaps the golden generation of this era. The Harimau Muda concept worked while it lasted but is now failing because football evolves daily but we are not following the right path here.

Bukit Jalil Sports School will be 20 years old come next year and it is still the biggest factory for the national team without a single competitor. Vast majority of the team that won the 2009, and 2011 Sea Games gold medal and 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup are from BJSS and based on that I can safely say the module has worked on an Asean level. But 20 years on, you would expect every state to have a BJSS of its own and be producing their very own talents. If that was the case, we would have had quantity and quality pushing through which creates a high level of competition to be in the first eleven of the national team. It also gives the national head coach a bigger pool of talent to work with and we will not see the same 16 to 22 players representing the country after such performances like the Palestine whipping and the 10-0 shambolic loss.

A little light at the end of the tunnel is the progress of the development being done at the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) under the Youth and Sports Ministry.

Back to the current state of our national team, basically damage limitation was done against Saudi Arabia before the match got called off in the 89th minute. A good start for the new man in charge but an uphill task awaits Datuk Ong Kim Swee on his battle as the head coach of our national team. Wishing him all the best and good luck.

Stanley Bernard is a former international who is still the only Malaysian to have played in the Indian League (I-league). He is currently a football pundit/analyst with the main broadcasters of the Barclays Premier League and European football in South-east Asia.

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