Malaysian football is about all of us

A file pic of Malaysian football fans during at the Rajamanggala National stadium in Bangkok during the AFF Suzuki Cup final in 2014.

IN the end, the race for the Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) top job was an anti-climax when Tan Sri Annuar Musa pulled out of the running at the last minute.

With that surprise move, Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim is now the FAM president — the sixth in 59 years.

Previously, the presidents were Tunku Abdul Rahman (1958-1974), Tun Abdul Razak (1975-76), Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah (1976-1983) and the long-serving Sultan Ahmad Shah who held the post for 30 years, from 1984 to 2014.

Tengku Mahkota Pahang, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, took over from his father but announced his decision to step down in November 2015 following Malaysia's 10-0 loss to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a World Cup qualifying match.

At the last FAM Congress in 2014, Tengku Abdullah won 27 out of the 39 votes to beat Tunku Ismail in a two-way contest.

As the person who made Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) what they are today, Tunku Ismail is certainly qualified for the job.

He possesses the know-how and the capability to raise the level of Malaysian football. But to what level?

There is a big difference between JDT and the Malaysian national team because while you can bring in the best players to JDT, you can't just import players from Brazil and Argentina into the national team.      

Ultimately, you have got to work with what you have. So let us not expect that Malaysia are going to be the best team in South East-Asia overnight.

What Tunku Ismail can do, however, is to put the systems and facilities in place.

JDT have the best football facilities in the country and it is time that the national team have the same.

And of course, Tunku Ismail will also have to find a way to make sure that teams playing in the local leagues are run professionally.

He has his work cut out for him.  

But the biggest problem I feel will be expanding the pool of Malaysian players to choose from.

And that is something which is not the duty of Tunku Ismail, FAM or the state football associations, but Malaysians as a whole. 

While districts and states can play their part by setting up academies, it is the community that has to encourage the young ones to take up the sport.

The bigger the base, the easier it is to get the best players. And of course, selection has to be based on merit.

One just has to look at the likes of Japan where there is a local support system in each district to know that it can be done.

We were on par or even better than Japan once upon a time, but that is history. And the proof is in what Japan consistently achieve on the Asian stage.  

But back to Tunku Ismail.  

There will be many waiting to pounce on him if the national team fails, but let's give him some time.

At the same time, let's all play our part in making sure that he gets the support needed.

We shouldn't be expecting miracles right away.

Malaysian football isn't about one person, but about all of us.

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