Malaysian football - the downward spiral


WE lost 6-0 against Palestine! A war-torn country that does not have any proper football facilities. Yes, they had a few naturalised players but these players only gather for tournaments or qualifying matches.

We have the luxury of having centralised training in countries like Slovakia and Japan, and yet when these matches come, our players suddenly become kaki bangkus!

I watched the match and the only player who impressed for Malaysia was 34-year-old playmaker Mohd Amri Yahyah. Even he was resigned to the fact that Malaysia was going to be walloped by the Palestinians.

This reminds me of the 2007 Asia Cup. China and Uzbekistan thrashed us in the group stages on our own turf!

What is happening to our team? After the 2011 AFF Suzuki Cup victory, our team has gone downhill!

Teams like Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have improved. Thailand beat Taiwan 2-0 while Singapore shocked Japan by holding out for a 0-0 draw in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers!

We have only regressed. After this defeat, our ranking will surely be affected and all will push the blame on FA of Malaysia (FAM).

Once, the FAM said rankings were nothing and even our Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that rankings do not matter but rather, it was the achievement of the team in tournaments like the SEA Games, Asian Cup and the World Cup qualifiers that counted.

With performances like this, we will never win a tournament or even qualify for a major tournament. FAM president Tengku Abdullah said that he wants Malaysia to qualify for the 2019 Asia Cup but with our development stunted and players not showing enough commitment, he might have to fulfill his promise of stepping down if we are not in the Asia Cup.

Last time, we use to have fans coming in droves. Now, we only have the Ultras to cheer these players! These people fork out so much money to watch our national team play!

In the match against Palestine, the Ultras chanted, Oh Dollah, apa kau dah buat? (Oh Dollah, what have you done?) True enough, he was made the scapegoat.

FAM president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has demanded an explanation from the beleaguered coach by saying that he has to answer for the poor result.

Tengku Abdullah said that Dollah had no excuse to blame the team line-up as “he was responsible for selecting the players”.

Before the qualifying matches, Dollah played a friendly match against Hong Kong and they did not look convincing at all. Tactically, we were naïve and in the so-called circus match against Tottenham Hotspur, only the foreigners impressed.

After the match against Palestine, Dollah said the players gave up. This is why you need lessons in man-management, coach! If whatever you said did not work, motivate or think of a plan B! At this rate, Dollah is not doing himself any favours.

However, the association should be responsible for this dip! What have they done to improve our football? Our once successful Harimau Muda project is also failing!

Former Malaysian international, football pundit and Blackburn Rovers Global Advisor Serbageth Singh also slammed FAM for its tactical naivety.

Johor FA president Tengku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, seemingly furious with the brickbats at his players, also urged FAM not select players from his team anymore.

We were not just targeting the JDT players but all the players in the national team. They looked devoid of ideas and seemingly just relied on long balls and expected players like Afiq Azmi and Amri Yahyah to capitalise on it.

Technically, we are bad. Always relying on the same tactics. With our players, pressing and constant possession will be great. Players like Affizie Faisal Mamat, Joseph Kallang Tie, Safiq Rahim, Shakir Shaari and Amri Yahyah are brilliant with the ball and they are players who can bring others into play!

All stakeholders should meet up and discuss. If I ever hear someone say kita kena belajar dari kesilapan (we have to learn from our mistakes), I would not hesitate to question that person!

How many times we have to learn from our mistakes? It's time to ponder and come up with a real good plan! Maybe you need to call people who are really passionate about football.

We do not need leaders who have positions in many sports associations. One man to handle one association! That, to me, is progress! As a fan, I just want to see our players give their 100% and the association coming up with innovative ways to improve our football.

The National Football Development Program (NFDP) led by the Youth and Sports Ministry is doing well under the tutelage of Lim Teong Kim but eventually, some of the youngsters will be under FAM's set-up.

Will they improve under FAM? I doubt so. Even under the state FAs, these players wont improve if the FAs follow the same old methods. Politicians are helming all these associations and they do not have any clue about sports management.

To make matters worse, a country that learnt from us is now helping us to revive our fortunes. Japan, who were on par with us in the 1970s and 80s, have inked a deal with our association to exchange for players, coaches and match officials to feature in the J-League clubs.

Sounds good but only time will tell if will work. Maybe we should learn from them but also implement our own style. We were known to be passionate and hungry in the past. We lack that right now!

I am just a fan who cares for the well-being of our football. I did not have the chance to see Mokhtar Dahari, Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh and R. Arumugam live.

Instead of fretting that I could not see them play, I wish the new generation or even the current crop of players to be like them or be better than them. If only our association plans well…


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