Faiz should be hailed, not undermined

BRAZIL'S Roberto Carlos is known for his thumping shots and free-kicks but his physics-defying goal against France in the 1997 Tournoi de France is what he is best remembered for.

From 35m, Carlos, who was 23-years-old at the time, was confident enough of burying the shot when he asked team captain Dunga to step aside.

Taking more than 10 steps back, many felt he would be relying on power instead of precision.

He always struck his shots on the valve of the ball, where it is hardest and one is able to generate more power as a result.

Carlos once said that he always kicked the ball from the bottom left to the top right, which helped it to swerve.

But the Tournoi de France goal caught even him by surprise as the spin of the ball changed its trajectory.

He once said: "Goals like that come around only once in your career."

Nineteen years later, another player has scored a goal reminiscent of Carlos's brilliant strike – Mohd Faiz Subri, who plays for Penang in the Malaysian Super League.

In the match against Pahang, Faiz took a free kick on the left of the Pahang goal. Using the "knuckleball" technique, Faiz only needed four steps in his run-up.

Using the instep of his right foot, his shot seemed to be heading for the left corner of the goal, but it then took a violent spin mid-flight and dropped into the top right corner of Pahang goalkeeper Nasril Nourdin's net. For Penang, it was a healthy a 3-0 lead, but for Faiz, the goal made him an instant Internet sensation!

From Eurosport to The Guardian, Faiz is now known throughout the world. Many have praised him for his effort with some saying that his strike is even better than Carlos'.

However, there are some who feel there was an element of luck to the goal.

To dispel that notion, I spoke to Perak head coach Syamsul Saad about Faiz's strike.

"No, no, no… There is no element of luck. I know Faiz Subri well. The technique he used that day, it was his intention to score such a goal. He trains very hard to perfect these set pieces.

"Players these days take advantage of the ball. Balls these days are lighter and that favour players who fancy set-pieces or long shots. I have seen him and he trains set-pieces all the time," he said.

Even national team coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee weighed in with his thoughts, saying that it was not a fluke.

"It was a genuine attempt at goal. When he was running towards the ball, his aim was towards the goal.

"It does not happen overnight. I am sure he polished his free-kick technique through strenuous training.

"The more shots he takes during training, the more confidence he gets before matches," Ong said, adding that set-piece specialists like Johor Darul Ta'zim's Safiq Rahim and Selangor's Hafiz Kamal are brilliant because they train extra to perfect that aspect of their game.

There are some Malaysians, of course who claim that it is easier to score such goals in the Malaysian League. I, for one, however, think that the shot would have gone in, whether Faiz had struck it in the English Premier League or the Thimphu League (Bhutan's football league).

This is my beef – When Roberto Carlos scored his goal, many Malaysian claimed it was down to sheer effort and he knew what he was doing when he took the shot.

And in the 2014 World Cup, when Andrea Pirlo took a free-kick which was similar to Faiz's but hit Joe Hart's crossbar, many called it one of the best missed free-kicks ever.

With Faiz, however, some people claim that the wind assisted his goal.

"Bila orang Malaysia buat, semuanya luck!" (When Malaysians do it, it is luck!)

To put it bluntly, when Malaysians achieve something extraordinary, we think that there is either an element of favouritism or it's sheer luck.

Sometimes we are just too fixated with what the "Mat Sallehs" (Caucasians) do that we do not appreciate our own talent.

This is one Malaysian mentality that needs to change. If we undermine our players' abilities, how is our football expected to improve? This culture of complaining and undermining people must stop!

I believe that there are many Malaysian footballers who give their all, week in and week out. At times, administrators and politicians fail to realise that, and even fans are hard on them.

When a player scores such a fine strike, a goal that deserves to be in contention for the FIFA Puskas Goal of the Year award, all we are doing is looking for flaws.

The only way to silence these people is for Faiz to do it again, which he said he will.

Look, let's just enjoy the goal and not dwell too much into it. The world is lauding Faiz's effort. We as Malaysians should be proud of it and spur Faiz on to greater heights. And not just him, but all the players!

We all praised the film Ola Bola and wish we could recreate such moments of glory. Well, if you want it so much, then it is time for you to support local football. Fill up stadiums and push the management and players.

Once this happens, we will see our football improving. Do not just sit at home on the sofa and criticise everything.

Stop complaining and start moving! That is all I ask.

Incidentally, here is a compilation of sensational goals scored by Malaysian footballers over the years:

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