MENTION Kedah's soccer rise over the years and two names are bound to crop
up - Datuk Ahmad Basri Mohamed Akil and Ahmad Shafie.
While Basri, the Kedah FA deputy president and State Secretary, has
tasted the fruits of their hard labour, Ahmad has not been so lucky.
The Ahmad combination started in the 80s, when together they mapped
Kedah's rise with good development programmes.
Their hardwork started paying dividends earlier than expected, when
Kedah reached the 1987 Malaysia Cup final.
Shafie was coach that year and the following year when Kedah reached
their second consecutive final.
However, KL soured things up when they won on both occasions.
Shafie was then named national coach for two years and Milous Kvacek
Kedah qualified for the final a record third time in 1989 but again lost
out to KL.
Kedah made history when they made their fourth consecutive final in 1990
under Kvacek, and this time they finally won, beating Singapore.
Shafie took over from Kvacek last year and the 49-year-old school
teacher saw his team fall into Division Two.
Kedah FA decided to seek foreign expertise again and Robert Alberts was
Kedah are in the final for yet another time and Shafie can only sit and
watch from the terraces and ponder on his ill-luck of not being able to
But he is not one to brood. Rather, he prefers to look on the bright
side of things.
"It would have been great to coach a team and win the Cup," said Shafie,
who is now Kedah's director of coaching.
"Perhaps, it is fated that I not taste Malaysia Cup success."
Shafie said he would still derive some satisfaction as long as he can
contribute to the success of the team.
Shafie teaches at the Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Kedah's soccer school
of excellence. He said that every year when Kedah get new players stamping
their mark, it makes his work worthwhile.
Kedah's cream of players have been coming from this college and more
recently from SM Syed Omar, the second school of excellence.
Shafie also coaches all the youth teams besides supervising other
coaches and ensuring that development programmes, drawn out by him, are
Kedah now not only have a good senior team, but also good youth players
who are the reservoir for the future.
Several players are now waiting to graduate into the team.
Faridzuan Che Hamid, Kedah's revelation this season, is among the
younger breed of players from the development programme.
Others include Lee Thean Ewe, V. Thinakaran, Saziman Ismail, S.
Manivanan, Mohamad Farouk Ismail, Abdul Malik Yusof and V. Navakumar.
"Kedah may reach many finals and go on to win them. Although I may not
be coaching the winning team, I will seek comfort that some of the
players would have had worked with me.
"I enjoy working with the young. It is more challenging because how
these players are groomed will determine the future of Kedah's soccer."