Azraai urges FAM to follow Vietnam’s way to unearth football talents

PETALING JAYA: Look up to Vietnam to get it right with Malaysia’s football development.

That’s former Kedah coach Azraai Khor Abdullah’s assessment as Harimau Muda finished fourth behind Thailand, Indonesia and champions Vietnam in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-23 Championships at the Rayong Provincial Stadium in Bangkok on Saturday.

Azraai, who once coached the Harimau Muda set-up in 2010, was puzzled that Malaysia were behind nations like Indonesia and Vietnam despite the many initiatives done to improve grassroots over the years.

“Look at Vietnam’s development for the past ten years. They went on a search for talents in every district in the country and unearthed a pool of 4,000 players for the future,” he said.

“In the past, they used to falter in the knockout stages of tournaments but now they are a dominant team. Their plan has worked. We lost to them 1-4 in the semi-finals.

“Malaysia said they could not pick their best players but Indonesia also faced the same situation but yet they reached the final.

They lost 5-6 on penalties to Vietnam after the match ended 0-0 in regulation time.

Azraai has called for the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) technical committee to step up.

“They can’t just expect players from Akademi Mokhtar Dahari (AMD) to flourish. We have to start looking for talents in every corner of the nation.”

“The players looked clueless. There must be some form of strategy but I can’t seem to see it. Is this how a national back-up team play? It is sad to see.

“Coach E. Elavarasan has to do a lot of work before the AFC Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers next month (Sept 6-12 in Thailand). Some of the players he picked did not live up to the expectations.”

He also felt that the MFL Cup, which is the Under-23 League, was not helping the young local players.

“I know some teams field all their youngsters but some parade foreigners, who occupy crucial positions like striker and midfielder. How are our youngsters going to grow when foreigners are preferred in those positions?” he questioned.

“We need regular playing time for our youngsters so that we can have better pool of players for the national age-side teams.”

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