A night(mare) to remember

United Arab Emirates (UAE) players celebrate after thrashing Malaysia 10-0. -AFP

NOT once but twice. We seem to be charitable to Middle Eastern countries these days.

Palestine, a war-torn nation with mostly naturalised players ripped us apart. Conceding six goals at the Shah Alam Stadium was not a sight to behold.

I remember vividly the words of national defender Afif Amiruddin, who was battered but looking to bounce back: “We have to do well. Look at our ranking… It has gone down. I hope I can help the team improve its rankings and also do well in the World Cup qualifiers.”

On Thursday, I am sure those words would have haunted him…

Afif was one of the players involved in the humiliating 10-0 defeat to the United Arab Emirates in the World Cup qualifications.

We all want to forget the result but the history books will not be kind to us.

It was the worst result for Harimau Malaya since going down to New Zealand 8-2 in an international match played in Kuala Lumpur almost 50 years ago.

The players were all over the place. Dollah played five-man defence but the players forgot the basics of defending.

Omer Abdulrahman, Ahmed Khalil and Ali Mabkhout, three of the best players in the 2015 Asia Cup, had a field day and made our players look like school kids. Actually, I think school kids are way better than our players.

Khairul Fahmi Che Mat’s reaction after Malaysia conceded the fifth goal was telling. He was certainly frustrated and bemused with the team’s lackadaisical performance.

When playing against top sides, it is important for a team to be tactically organised and follow the coach’s instructions. In this case, they played zonal and they flunked.

UAE scored the fourth goal and the team just conceded defeat. They lost it in the first half itself.

Goalkeepers, not one but three who played in the match were unable to find an answer for such porous defence, and the midfield led by Safiq Rahim was devoid of ideas and just stood there and watched the brilliance of Abdulrahman.

Humiliating? Disappointing? Pointless? Abysmal?  I can’t seem to find the best word to sum up their performance.

My thoughts go to the Malaysian fans who attended the match. I am sure they would have been gutted to watch such a spineless performance.

Having attended a corruption conference on Thursday, I thought there was an element of foul play but after watching the highlights, I just knew the players were not cut out for it.

In 1980s and 1990s, we used to give Middle Eastern sides a run for their money but now we seem resigned to losing against these nations.

“I expected to lose just by a goal but not this scoreline. I am shocked but also responsible for this,” said Dollah Salleh after he arrived with the team at the Kuala Lumpur International (KLIA) airport.

Never have I seen a coach come up with such a plan before a match. If the Singaporeans can hold Japan in their own backyard, why can’t we?

As a coach, you have to be confident with your squad even though you are given minimal time to prepare. It is your squad and you should know how to utilise them! Coaching 101…do you need such a book, coach Dollah?

It was good to see him quit the national team because he knew he could not do anything to the ailing squad. Datuk Ong Kim Swee is now the interim coach of the national team and I am sure he will have a pretty tough task of leading the players.

Confidence will be down and Ong will surely address that. It would be a miracle to beat Saudi Arabia at Shah Alam Stadium this Tuesday!

When Malaysia was annihilated by Palestine in June, I wrote that Malaysia had the luxury of having centralised training in countries like Slovakia and Japan, and yet when these matches come, our players suddenly become kaki bangkus!

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

I have always said this - the association should be responsible for this dip! What have they done to improve our football?

Even those who are expecting "summer days" for our football in the future will only think of "darkness" now. There is nowhere to hide for FAM!

All stakeholders should meet up and discuss. I have said this many times! Is FAM going to meet only when the national loses 20-0? Do you want to see badminton or rugby scoreline in the near future?

How many times do we have to learn from our mistakes? Like I have said, 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.

You know what, the leadership needs to step down and the management needs an overhaul… A must if you ask me! Do not tell me that this defeat does not humiliate them!

Come out and be responsible. The fans have been craving for success. After the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup victory, the national has not improved and FAM has to accept that fact.

It is a shame to see our football fall to such depths. It will be hard to recover but it will be progress if we see changes in FAM. If that does not happen, our football will be in deep abyss!

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