SHAH ALAM: We’ve heard many complain of Malaysia having first-class facilities and third-class mentality. That could apply in football as well, says Dutch coach Robert Alberts. Malaysia, he says, has top-notch organisation but a poor football culture.
Alberts, who has coached many clubs in the South-East Asian region, shared his thoughts on the difference between Malaysian and Indonesian football, before he leads his young charges from Persib Bandung in the Selangor Asia Challenge, which starts today at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Having first coached Kedah from 1992 to 1995, the well-travelled coach went on to coach the Malaysia Under-19 team in 2007 and Sarawak in two separate stints from 2008 to 2019 and 2011 to 2015.
He then coached Indonesian club PSM Makassar until last year before joining Persib.
The 65-year-old says he knows well the difference between the Indonesian and Malaysian leagues. “I never left Malaysia. I am just working in Indonesia, ” said Alberts, who usually stays in Malaysia during the off-season.
“In Malaysia, clubs will start their pre-season and know when the actual season will start, but over in Indonesia, we don’t know when we are starting.
“Malaysia is ahead here because in professional football, it is essential to know all these things. We would want to set our target and work towards it.
“In terms of organisation, Indonesia is just trying to build what Malaysia already has. If it can be done, they will be giants because the country has the passion, talent and clubs.”
Alberts said Indonesia’s football culture is much stronger than in Malaysia as fans there live and breathe for their clubs.
“Most stadiums in Indonesia have lots of spectators. The fans in Indonesia are passionate about their own clubs. You do not see many Manchester United, Real Madrid or even Barcelona jerseys over there.
“Even small towns have their own stadiums. They have a pyramid system when it comes to leagues, so you can see lots of clubs jostling to play in the top division.”
In the Selangor Asia Challenge, his side will face home side Selangor today and Hanoi FC on Sunday.
He will be facing a familiar face in the form of Selangor coach B. Sathianathan, as they used to work together in the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) in 2007.
“It is a good opportunity for our young players to show what levels they have reached against international clubs because we are preparing for the AFC Cup this year.
“We will not be playing our usual first team players because the season ended on Dec 22. Our pre-season only starts on Jan 22. I know Sathia is a good tactician, but he does not know my team yet, so hopefully, we can spring a few surprises.
“We are friends, but we want to win too.”
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