DON'T overdo the backslapping. Don't go overboard with the praises.
Compliments aside, we need a self-critical approach to complement the
country's sporting evolution.
Malaysia should keep their feet on the ground and look at the Asian
Games success in the proper perspective.
As the 13th Asiad ended yesterday, the statistics look good for the
Malaysians. They have done better than '94 Hiroshima (4-2-13) with an
overall haul of five gold, 10 silver and 14 bronze medals. It also
exceeded the NSC forecast of four golds, eight silver and 18 bronze.
But we were expected to ride the Commonwealth Games momentum to Bangkok.
Did we do that?
Of the five golds won, only two - through Lim Keng Liat (swimming) and
Nicol David (squash) - were from sports that Malaysia featured in the
Karate and snooker, which provided three golds, did not benefit from the
RM129 million that NSC injected into the four-year training and
development programme for KL `98.
In retrospect, the Malaysians went through a trying time in Bangkok and,
in fact, there was much uncertainty before the cheers came.
From Day One, it was a struggle meeting the NSC target. Many had given
up when the gold medal tally seemed fronzen at three until karate
delivered two golden chops.
When the dinner parties and other celebrations are over, the powers-
that-be should analyse how these medals came for Malaysia and that is
needed for the athletes to be Asian class, let alone world beaters.
How many of the sports that shone for Malaysia in Bangkok are in the
Olympics? Do they include karate, snooker and squash?
In this perspective, Malaysia should then concentrate on swimming and
"backstroke whiz kid" Lim Keng Liat in particular.
Only 18, the Sabahan is bursting with potential and prospect for
Malaysia who never had an Asian swimming champion before. In Bangkok, the
US-trained Sabahan broke the stranglehold of the world class Chinese and
Japanese aces to bag the 100m backstroke gold and setting an Asian Games
record of 55.53s. He also won the 200m backstroke silver.
With Keng Liat now ranked among the world top 10, he is definitely an
asset for Olympic glory and the leading star of NSC's training and
Hockey and badminton, the mainframe of Malaysian sports, have vast
potential though they did not strike gold in Bangkok. But they are in good
hands and the NSC can expect them to be reliable performers.
But athletics, though having no lack of talent, looks hazy with no one
really able to stamp his or her class in Asia. That's a big poser for the
Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union on why Watson Nyambek and Co can't make
the quantum leap.
It is no coincidence that the hosts always do well. Thailand proved that
"homeground advantage" does help - ballroom dancing and all that - by
winning 24 golds, 26 silvers and 40 bronzes for their best ever finish in
And Malaysia also achieved their best ever performance when the country
organised the Commonwealth Games.
But can we go on organising Games for the sake of improving medal tally?
Malaysia, who are bidding for the 2006 Asian Games, have to look beyond
Do we have wait for the Asiad to be staged in our own backyard in order
to achieve a major success? Even if Malaysia get to host the 2006 Asiad,
the national sport bodies still cannot be procrastinating in their
preparations and expect medals to drop onto their laps.
Judging from the progress of Malaysian sports over the years, there is
still a lot of catching up to do. We cannot go on forever having short-
term programme for particular competitions like KL `98.
For the Asian Games, the NSC spent about RM 2.8 million over two years
in training and preparing the athletes for Bangkok.
A sad scenario in Malaysian sports is that more often than not, we
neglect development and long-term planning. Our knowledge is also lacking.
Firstly we have to identify the sports that we are good at.
We actually have sports officials in the dark about the rivals - who are
our neighbours - because they did not do their homework.
Malaysia could have managed to get a medal or two in certain events if
only team officials have been up to date on the tactics of the other
Selection to the Malaysian team based on the third placing of the
previous Games is not good enough taking into consideration that
performances generally will improve.
Coming to long-term planning, we should hire people to act more as
advisors to local coaches. This means the foreign coaches are not here
just to train our athletes but also at the same time impart their
expertise to local coaches.
For the money and effort spent, these foreign coaches should leave
behind a sport foundation or a network of qualified and experienced local
Some of our coaches do not actually know where to start or what to look
for in identifying talents.
We should study Malaysian sports by the individuals and earmark the
talents. It is not difficult as most of the sports do not have outstanding
It is not a surprise that sport associations like squash - who are
professionally managed and backed by sound development programmes - are
We can't be content with second or third best or "compromised targets"
anymore. No longer do we accept the "mediocrity is not bad" mentality.
We have to make a decision. If we are to be dead serious, go for it in a
big way with proper planning and management.
If mediocrity or flash-in-the-pan performances are accepted, we
shouldn't be wasting taxpayers' money and corporate funds especially more
so in these bad times.
Malaysia have the potential to become a force in sports, especially when
we are multi-racial country with diverse talents. We can find talents from
the various races for each discipline to match the requirements of the
And that has made Malaysia the envy of other countries.
Monday, December 21, 1998
BANGKOK ASIAN GAMES
Sunday, December 20, 1998
THE National Sports Council (NSC) should stop throwing money around if
Wednesday, December 16, 1998
CIA or agents from Salt Lake City? Whatever it is, some unauthorised
Americans are traipsing around the Asian Games Village in Bangkok.
And they are flashing Asian Games Identity Cards issued by the Olympic
Council of Malaysia (OCM).
Someone could have procured these tags somewhere between the nightclubs
of Patpong to the Games Village at Thammasat University.
The thought of some Yankees masquerading as Malaysians is not amusing
when even Malaysian media personnel have faced difficulties in getting
The OCM should do some snooping around on their own to find out how
people from the other side of the world get to be "Malaysians".
Fortunately, these "fakers" are not agents of foreign powers sent to
destabilise the Malaysian team.
They are just fun-loving collectors who scour the planet for pins that
to them are the badges of conquests.
An American pin collector was spotted in the International Zone at the
Games Village wearing an ID card stating NOC of Malaysia while another
American, also a pin collector, said he got his accreditation through the
The tags of both the pin collectors were listed under `O' that
classified them as observers.
One wonders how the OCM actually approved accreditation for foreigners
who are not involved in Malaysian sports or the Games in any way.
One of the Americans with the OCM-issued tag, said he obtained his card
through another friend who knows a top Malaysian sports official.
The American, a retired aerospace mircochip engineer who has never been
to Malaysia, said: "In fact, there are four of us here. It was this friend
of mine who helped us get the IDs."
He got his Malaysian ID tag when he arrived in Bangkok from Los Angeles
on Nov 30.
"It was a last minute plan to come here. When this friend of mine said
he could arrange for an ID, I decided to come.
"This is the first Asian Games that I am attending although I have been
to several Olympics," said the American, who has a collection of 20,000
Although the American has an observer pass which gives him access to
venues and the Games Village International Zone, he said two of his
friends have passes which allow them into the Games Village itself.
OCM secretary-general Sieh Kok Chi expressed surprise when asked about
these pin collectors.
"We have several foreigners with Malaysian accreditation but they are
all involved with our sports.
"As far as I can remember, I have only authorised five foreigners,
including Peter Thumm (a NSC consultant) and his Swiss friend."
Whatever it is, the OCM have been pinpointed as being responsible for
the presence of these American pin-hunters.
Tuesday, December 1, 1998
KARL WEIGANG, Malaysia's best-achieving foreign soccer coach, may soon
walk back through the doors of FAM again.
The German is tipped to renew an acquaintance with FAM that started 18
years ago when he steered Malaysia to the finals of the Moscow Olympics.
Though Abdul Rahman Ibrahim is the new coach of the national team,
Weigang could be new supremo of the Olympic 2000 squad who are without a
coach following the "removal" of Hatem Souissi.
Weigang is expected to be interviewed by the Olympics 2000 new
Weigang, who has just led Perak to the Malaysia Cup final, has said he
will be leaving Perak at the end of the season.
However, whether Weigang wants to accept the national job or just become
a technical adviser with a local coach handling Olympic 2000 is left to be
But at this stage, Weigang seems to be the leading candidate as the
successor to Hatem.
FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah said they had no intention of sacking
Hatem after yesterday's exco meeting but the Tunisian will be redesignated
as a technical adviser.
On the question of the coaching job, Sultan Ahmad Shah said it is up to
the management committee to decide on the needs of the team.
Apart from Weigang, the other names that came up during Saturday's
Technical Committee meeting were Pahang's Jorgen Larsen and Sarawak's Alan
Although former Sabah coach Ronald Smith of Australia was mentioned by
the media as one of the candidates, it is learnt he was not considered.
The shortlisted coaches are expected to be called up for an interview
where they will outline their plans for Olympic 2000 and what can be done
to turn the team around.
The coach who can convince the management committee, headed by FAM
deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, on how he can change
the fortunes of Olympic 2000, will probably get the job.
But at the same time, the committee will give consideration to those
familiar with Malaysian soccer.
It is learnt that Hatem, during his meeting with the Technical
Committee, was asked to give his views on improving the team following
their recent poor performances but he apparently did not have much to
The technical committee felt it was best that someone is brought in for
the betterment of the team.
It has been established that the Olympic players could not get along
with Hatem because of his strict discipline and rigid training.
They wanted Hatem out and there have been indications the players held
back in matches recently to make Hatem look bad.
The "removal" of Hatem seems like FAM are bowing to the demands of the
Hatem's "ouster" at this stage is debatable because there are only six
months to the Olympics qualifier in June.
Hatem has earned good reviews as a coach and maybe his only fault was
not getting the players behind him.
But a decision has already been taken and all indications are Hatem is
history. The Tunisian is not going to sit around and see another coach
handle the team while he does paper work.
Everything points to Weigang taking over.
Sunday, November 22, 1998
THE FA of Malaysia's (FAM) move in barring foreign players from the M-
League next season could probably serve as the best medicine for the
current ills of Malaysian soccer.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) technical director S. Subramaniam
certainly believes so.
"I mean no disrespect to the foreign players who have been playing here.
"They've done their part by lighting up the League. To a certain extent,
they've helped to mould some local players by imparting their experience
and skills to them," said Subramaniam.
"But the time has come for Malaysian soccer to stand on its own two
feet. We've not been doing well internationally and one of the reasons for
that is the dearth of talented players in certain positions.
"And coincidentally, most of these positions have been occupied by
foreign players in the M-league.
For instance, we lack capable strikers and midfielders. Most of the
teams employ foreign players in these departments.
"Now, with no foreigners to rely on, the teams will have to depend on
the abilities of local players.
"So, State FAs will have to place emphasis on developing their own
players to fill the positions.
They will also have to scout for new local players."
Subramaniam said an important factor that makes a towering contribution
to a player's improvement is exposure.
"If more local players get the chance to play, they'll be exposed to
more competitive matches. This will surely help them to improve."
Subramaniam said that State teams should not be apprehensive about
playing with just local players as history shows that we have done well in
the past relying on only local talents.
"In fact, we had formidable national teams in the past compared to now.
That alone should justify the move to do away with the foreigners.
"Teams should not worry about fans staying away from matches because
there are no foreigners in the line-up. If they can produce results, fans
"The bottom line is, fans are interested in results and once a team does
well, they will flock to the stadium again.
The huge sums of money saved from not signing foreigners, noted
Subramaniam, can be chanelled towards development.
"We must make an effort to ensure that we have a bigger pool of players
for the national team."
He cited one example where the absence of a foreigner resulted in the
discovery of a local player.
Subramaniam was obviously talking about Negri Sembilan's Zami Mohamed
"If Scott Ollerenshaw was still around and scoring goals, Zami would
never have been given the chance to play as striker.
"Perhaps we will discover many more calibre strikers, midfielders and
defenders of our own, next season."
IT'S that time of the season again when players go on a frantic search for
new employers and vice versa.
This search for new contracts has resulted in many controversial
incidents this year where lack of ethics on the part of players' and State
FAs' brought about the last-minute back-out from deals.
To avoid such problems next season, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) Local
Competitions Committee have required that both players and State FAs who
want to negotiate on a contract get a "licence" from them first.
FAM secretary-general Datuk Paul Mony Samuel said any party wanting to
hold negotiations will have to get written permission from the FAM which
will be valid for only one week.
He said the move was to protect both players and State FAs from
unscrupulous practices and to ensure everything is done professionally.
In the past, there were players who held negotiations with several teams
at the same time so to secure the best deal.
State FA`s were caught in disputes with players who sign letters of
intent with more than a team.
Sometimes State FAs are caught in disputes with players who sign letters
of intent with them only to sign up with another team later who offers
them a better deal.
Then there are players who even sign letters of intent with more than
"We want to avoid wrangles arising from negotiations between players and
State FAs," said Mony.
"As they now require a document to hold negotiations, players and State
FAs will only be conducting one negotiation at a time. And they'll be more
careful with their dealings."
"And if an agreement can't be reached during the one week time frame
both parties would have to discontinue negotiations or apply for an
extension if agreeable with both parties.
"If no agreement is reached after the given period, then the
negotiations are considered to have fallen through.
"This way, a player will only be negotiating with one State at a time.
With a time frame set for the negotiations, there won't be any delays or
dragging of feet.
"We hope the move will ensure that all negotiations are held
professionally and won't result in any disputes."
Saturday, November 21, 1998
FOOTBALLERS who use marijuana or ganja to enhance their performance will
Friday, November 20, 1998
FORMER international K. Rajagopal has joined the race for the Selangor
Rajagopal is the latest name to be bandied about to take over the reins
of the Red Giants - ironically, from his former assistant!
Rajagopal, 42, is the only local figure among the four names in the
running for the hot seat
The others are Kiwi Douglas Moore, the former Singapore national coach,
Australian Ronald Smith, the former Sabah coach who is with Johor FC and
Dane Jorgen Larsen, the Pahang coach.
The Selangor M-League management committee, headed by FA of Selangor
(FAS) vice-president and team manager Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad, meet tomorrow
to decide on their coach for next season.
The position is likely to be assumed by Rajagopal who has been the
Selangor Reserve League coach the last three years.
Zainal Abidin Hassan could be assistant coach-cum-player.
Zainal is attending an FA of Malaysia (FAM) coaching course in Penang
which started this morning.
One of the main reasons for Selangor to opt for Rajagopal is the cost
factor. Hiring a foreign coach is going to cost them a bomb.
After all, financial problems were the reason for parting with
Englishman Steve Wicks in midseason.
Wicks was replaced by Ismail Zakaria, Rajagopal's assistant with the
President's Cup squad.
Despite being overlooked for the job, Rajagopal took it like a
professional and stayed devoted to the junior team.
Rajagopal won't be lost as Selangor coach as he was assistant to Ken
Worden in 1994 and 1995 and Bernd Schumm in 1993.
Rajagopal also assisted Worden with the national team in 1991 and 1992.
Rajagopal, who attained his A Licence in 1992, played as a striker for
Selangor from 1978 to 1984, winning five Malaysia Cup medals from six
Rajagopal was discovered by Selangor while playing for his employers
PKNS in the Selangor League in early 1978.
He also coached the PKNS from 1989-1991 before joining the Selangor
coaching staff on a part-time basis.
Rajagopal was at the German Embassy yesterday afternoon to receive his
International `A' Licence coaching certificate together with Perlis'
Norizan Bakar from the third secretary of the Embassy, Gunter Obermeyer.
When asked about the Selangor coaching job, Rajagopal said:
"This is news to me. I've not been informed of anything by FAS. Besides,
the management committee have not even met yet and I don't think any
decision has been made.
"But of course, I will accept the job if offered."
Thursday, November 19, 1998
THE FA of Malaysia (FAM) are breathing down the necks of State FAs to
ensure they do their part in youth development.
They can no longer tolerate the State FAs' neglect of this vital area
which have been one of the major reasons for the current ills of Malaysian
Some stern measures have been taken by FAM to push the State FAs into
getting the ball rolling in grassroots development.
One of which concerned the hand-out of subsidies, which are now only
given to State FAs who can prove they have done some development work like
organising age-group tournaments or setting up academies.
This year, the FAM, instead of organising the age-group tournaments on a
carnival basis as in previous years, launched the inaugural national
Under-16 and Under-18 Leagues.
As a follow up, the FAM Local Competitions Committee, headed by Datuk
Redzuan Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad, have recommended to the Council the State
FAs have their own age-group tourneys before the national tournament.
The recommendation will be endorsed on Dec 12.
Some States, like the Kuala Lumpur FA, already have age-group
competitions in the form of the Inter-Parliamentary Constituency
But it is non-existent in most of the other States.
In their proposal to the Council, the FAM Competitions Committee want to
make it compulsory for all State FAs to have their own Under-16 and Under-
18 Leagues with a minimum of eight teams from March to May.
Only State FAs who organise their own Leagues will be eligible to
compete in the national Leagues from June to October.
The FAM Competitions Committee have also proposed some changes to the
Instead of having four groups in the competition like this year, they
suggested only two. The idea is to give the young players the chance to
play more matches.
After the home and away League fixtures are completed, the top four teams
in each group will advance to the quarterfinals.
The quarterfinals and semifinals will also be played on a home and away
basis. The final, however, will be decided in one match unlike last year.
The idea of playing just one match in the final has also been suggested
to the President's Cup and FAM Cup competitions.
A knock-out competition could also be held in the President's Cup this
year besides the League.
The FAM Competitions Committee have recommended that the age limit for
the President's Cup be maintained at 20 on or before Jan 1, 1978.
This is to allow the players who played this year to continue for
The move is to help players who have not broken into the senior team,
giving them one more year of exposure.
A proposal was also made by the State FAs that the President's Cup team
be allowed to use three over-aged players who are under 23. But these
players, however, will be registered with the M-League team.
The changes in format of the age-group competitions will allow teams to
assemble for a longer period of eight months compared to just a few weeks
FAM, naturally, hope to see the players from the age-group teams
progressing to play in the Asian age-group tournaments in 2000 and the
Fifa age-group competitions in 2001, resulting in a bigger talent pool for
the 2004 Olympics.
Wednesday, November 18, 1998
THE FA of Malaysia (FAM) are taking steps to ensure the M-League will not
lose its lustre in the absence of foreign players next year.
The FAM Local Competitions Committee, headed by chairman Datuk Redzuan
Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad, have come up with several proposals which have drawn
an enthusiastic response from the State teams.
The proposals will be tabled at the FAM Council meeting on Dec 12 for
endorsement and implementation.
Topping the list of proposals is giving teams the chance to earn an
extra point from matches that end in a draw.
FAM secretary general Datuk Paul Mony Samuel, in briefing the team
officials and State FA secretaries yesterday said: "Teams will still get
one point each from drawn matches.
"But to make it more exciting, we want to give an additional point to
the team that wins in a penalty shootout."
Another idea is adding another round of matches between teams in Premier
One and Premier Two.
With the arrangement, another nine matches will be played apart from the
18 contested on a home and away basis. This brings the total number of
matches to 27.
The move could be implemented in two ways.
First, the additional round can be played among teams in Premier One and
Premier Two respectively.
Or the round of matches could be between teams in Premier One and
The team officials and State FA secretaries found the second format more
Mony said the additional round of fixtures would be completed first,
followed by the usual two rounds among the teams in the respective Premier
One and Premier Two divisions.
The gate collections from the additional nine matches will be shared
between the Premier One and Premier Two teams.
Five of the matches will be hosted by Premier Two teams while four will
be played on the homeground of Premier One teams.
The extra round is to increase the number of competitive matches and to
utilise fully the contracts of players, which are normally for a year.
Among the other proposals are:
An open registration for the competition but players are only allowed to
play for one team at the League level. Teams who have reached the
registration limit of 25 players but want to register new players will
only be allowed to do so with the cancellation of players from the
original list. But they must provide documented proof that the contracts
have been terminated amicably.
Players will be allowed to be loaned to another team if his team do not
make the Malaysia Cup competition. A maximum of five players will be
allowed per team.
Three Under-23 players must be registered and they will be allowed to
play for the President's Cup team.
Friday, November 13, 1998
IN addition to economic factors, the doing away with foreign players in
the M-League next year was also to give more local players the chance to
make a name for themselves.
But that purpose will not be fulfilled if the ban is lifted after one or
Three days after the decision was made at the FA of Malaysia (FAM)
Council meeting on Sunday, the Terengganu FA were already talking about
reemploying their foreign players when the League doors are open again to
Terengganu FA secretary Abdullah Salleh was quoted as saying the ban was
just temporary. And once it is lifted, they will resign their three
foreigner players - Jean Nyima (Cameroon), Seidu Issifu (Ghana) and Samuel
Abdullah must be under the impression the ban will be short-lived.
If that is the case, then all talk about local talents being discovered
or getting the opportunity to develop while the foreigners are away is
New talent cannot be moulded in a year or two.
If the ban on foreigners is to contribute to the discovery and
development of more local talents, it has to last between three to five
Anything less than that will not help the cause of uplifting the
standard of the local players.
We could be looking at a situation where even before the local players
can settle down and make their mark, their positions will already be
assumed by foreigners.
Appropriately, Terengganu were among the State FAs who did not question
FAM's move on the foreign players at the Council meeting.
Even when they were asked to make a stand on the issue by FAM president
Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Arguments may persist on the pros and cons of the action FAM have taken.
But their decision stands as no objections were made from the very people
who possess the right to do so.
For the time being, the State FAs should turn to their local material
and help build a wider talent base for the national team instead of
thinking about how soon the ban on foreign players will be lifted.
Thursday, November 12, 1998
MALAYSIA coaches K. Rajagopal and Norizan Bakar emerged tops in a one-
month course in Hennef, Germany last month while attaining their
International `A' Licence.
Selangor's Rajagopal and Norizan of Perlis scored almost 100 per cent to
finish as the top coaches out of 27 from 17 countries.
FA of Malaysia (FAM) Youth Director Holger Obermann received the good
news from Gerog Behlau of the Education Department of the German Football
Association (DFB) yesterday.
It is also the first time in the history of the course, which is fully
sponsored by the German government, that two coaches from the same country
have been adjudged the best candidates.
Obermann said he was not told who the top candidate was as both
Rajagopal and Norizan scored near perfect marks.
The course was conducted by Erich Rutemoller, a member of the DFB
coaching staff. He was assisted by Horsrt Kriete.
Rajagopal and Norizan, both FAM `A' Licence holders, were said to have
been exemplary in the classroom and the outdoor sessions.
They were put through exercises in training methodology, basic technical
skills, planning, physical training, game evaluation, sports medicine,
youth development, administration and management.
The two also watched Bundesliga and international matches.
They enjoyed a short stay with Bundesliga teams Leverkusen and Schalke
04 where they were exposed to the teams' training and match preparations.
"This is an honour for Malaysian coaches. Rajagopal and Norizan should
be commended for doing Malaysia proud," said Obermann, who has been with
FAM under a German government programme the last three years.
"Norizan worked under me while I was coaching the Malaysian Under-14
team that won the Asia-Pacific Cup for the first time in 1995," said
"He showed tremendous potential and I am not surprised by what he
achieved in Germany," said Obermann, who was in Heneff for a week while
the two coaches were attending the course.
"Rajagopal is also a calibre coach having worked with the Selangor
senior and President's Cup teams.
"I strongly believe Rajagopal and Norizan are capable of handling M-
League teams and should be given the opportunity to do so," said Obermann.
Obermann said German Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Norbert H. Holl, will
host a reception next week in honour of Rajagopal and Norizan.
Also to be honoured at the reception is Aminuddin Hussein, who is
attached to the FAM Youth Department.
Aminuddin, who hails from Negri Sembilan, emerged among the top 10
coaches in a six-month Sports Diploma course in Leipzig from January to
July this year. The course was also sponsored by the German government.
Monday, November 9, 1998
MALAYSIAN football could finally be staring at a likely successor to their
OLYMPIC 2000 coach Hatem Souissi's job may be under scrunity but taking
any drastic measures against him now will only mean going a few steps
backwards instead of forward.
Souissi's review comes about after the team's 9-0 thrashing by the
Thailand national team preparing for the Asian Games during the recent
playing tour of Bangkok, which also saw the Olympic 2000 side losing 5-1
and 4-2 to club sides.
FA of Malaysia deputy president Tengku Abdullah, who is the Tengku
Mahkota of Pahang, said yesterday Hatem's position would be reviewed based
on the team's next outing at the Bristol Independence Cup in Sri Lanka
from Nov 15-21.
Apart from Malaysia, the other teams competing are hosts Sri Lanka,
Maldives, and India. The top two teams qualify for the final, which offers
US$10,000 (RM38,000) for the champions and US$5,000 (RM19,000) for the
If the Olympic 2000 team fail to reach the final, will it mean Hatem
will be sacked?
Tengku Abdullah would not commit himself.
"We will assess the situation and make a decision then," said Tengku
Should FA of Malaysia sack Hatem, it is no guarantee the team will do
well in the Olympic qualifiers, with the likes of Japan in their group, to
be played in the next six months.
The bottomline is everything has to be studied in detail and whatever
decision made must be technical in nature and not done through emotions or
because one does not like the person.
FA of Malaysia are wrong in harbouring any hopes of Olympic 2000 making
the Sydney Olympics. With all due respect to FAM, sometimes we have to
face reality and accept it.
Expecting a team assembled three years ago (and spending millions of
ringgit) to become overnight champions is certainly a far-fetched thought
- and not a formula for success.
The present team should have about at least six to eights years'
training behind them - which means they should have started off at the age
of 10 or the latest 12.
But when one has to recruit 25 out of 3,000 players 16 years of age and
above, the timing is definitely out with the team heading for disaster.
What more, these players are still raw and need to be taught the basics
of the game.
The problem with Malaysian soccer is it has always been lacking in
patience and expecting short-term results. There is no continuity and the
coaches, instead of the system, are blamed for it.
In any case, FAM appointed Souissi based on his credentials and
capabilities. By getting rid of him, they will only be admitting their
mistake in hiring him three years ago and it took them so long to realise
For all we know, Souissi may just throw in the towel and leave before
FAM decide to sack him. He may do it not because he has given up or does
not believe in himself but merely because he is a true professional who
has put in a great deal of honest work, which does not seem to be
At the end of the day, one must realise race horses cannot be made out
Thursday, November 5, 1998
IF IT could be helped, Penang coach Moey Yoke Ham would not want to lose
the foreign touch in his Premier One winning team.
Yoke Ham said his team would feel the strain if foreign players are done
away from the M-League next season.
Weighing the pros and cons, he said: "If financial difficulty is the
main factor for doing away with foreign players, then we'll just have to
go with it.
"But I believe if teams stay within their means, the money problem can
"If teams do not have the money for three foreign players, they need not
take three and burden themselves."
Yoke Ham said it was unfair to generalise that foreign players have not
served their purpose in the local soccer scene.
"Without our foreign players, we would not be the formidable team we are
"Most foreign players here have in one way or another contributed to
their teams. And the local players are learning from them.
"As for those who are not up to the mark, we should blame ourselves for
making a poor selection rather then faulting the players.
"Our players like Merzagua (Abderazzak), Riyadh (Abbas), Balla (Conde)
and Fabio (Da Silva) who is injured, have been exemplary figures.
"There have been occasions when I got the local players to train under
them to learn more about the game.
"And I am sure the opposing teams have also benefited from the presence
of foreigners, some of whom have tested the local players to the limit.
"Any local defender marking Merzagua for instance, will definitely end
up richer in experience."
The final decision on foreign players will be made at the FAM Council
meeting on Sunday.
There is a strong likelihood of foreign players being barred for at
least one season but the State FAs could compromise by allowing one
foreign player per team.
Sunday, November 1, 1998
THE FA of Malaysia (FAM) are getting themselves directly involved in the
grassroots development of the game.
And they have to as the State FAs, whose very job it is to handle it,
have made little headway on their own.
The FAM have received much unsatisfactory feedback on the development
programmes of State FAs.
One of the features of development stressed by the FAM was monitoring
the setup of State academies. Till now, all States have fulfilled that aim
except for Sarawak.
But running the academies has been quite an arduous task for the State
FAs. Checks by the FAM on the state of the academies and their running of
them have exposed some alarming shortcomings.
Among them are:
* Poor selection of players and cases of favouritism;
* Unqualified coaches handling the academies;
* Lack of proper playing fields for the academies;
* Insufficient number of players and difference in age and mix.
Last Tuesday, FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah, who is also the
Technical and Development Committee chairman, visited the Kuala Lumpur FA
Academy at the Bandar Tun Razak Stadium for a first hand view of the
Though he was generally satisfied, Tengku Abdullah felt there was still
much room for improvement - not only in KL, but all the academies
throughout the country.
One urgent change needed is for the academies to be more comfortable and
spacious. Tengku Abdullah noted that the KLFA Academy was a little
He said FAM's direct involvement in grassroots development was to ensure
that everything is run smoothly in the State FAs.
"The panel of coaches with the Technical Department will assist in the
selection of players for the Academy. This is to ensure that only the best
in all the different age-groups in each State are in the Academy," said
That comment came after Razip Ismail, a former KL and international
defender, one of the two KL Academy coaches along with Tang Siew Sing,
voiced his concern that the best players were not in the Academy.
The selection was already made before the appointment of Razip and Siew
Sing. They called for the talent pool to be widened as the number of
players in each age group now under their wing was far from sufficient.
There are currently 30 players in the KL Academy - five players from
Form Five, nine from Form Four, five from Form Three, six from Form Two
and five from Form One.
Tengku Abdullah assured that the intake of players will be increased
An extension programme is on the cards where several more schools will
be included in the programme to increase the number of players in each
These players will not be based in the academy but attend training. The
FAM will keep a close eye on the selection process to ensure that only the
best is picked.
"As this is a long-term investment we want to see results. For that to
happen, everything has to be done professionally," said Tengku Abdullah.
"Incompetent coaches will be replaced."
Tengku Abdullah urged the State FAs to seek the assistance of their
respective State Governments or Local Town Councils in acquiring vacant
land to build more playing fields.
KL, in particular, is facing a shortage of playing fields.
"The FAM will assist in whatever way to acquire land once the State FAs
have identified them and forwarded their requests to the State Governments
or Local Authorities. We'll also be looking at school fields to utilise
them," he said.
"Ideally, we would like the State FAs to run their academies. But the
current situation requires us to step in and see that all plans are
carried out smoothly."
Saturday, October 31, 1998
THE FA of Malaysia will soon be directly involved in the organising of
leagues at the State level.
FAM are disturbed by the quality and organisation of most of the State
leagues while in some States there are no such leagues.
FAM have decided to go to the grassroots to ensure at least some
FAM deputy president, Tengku Abdullah, who is also the technical and
development committee chairman, said plans are underway to ensure all
State FAs organise local leagues.
They are to be run simultaneously on specified days of the week.
"The State FAs are supposed to be organising local leagues to spot and
groom talent. They are also supposed to hold a competition for clubs,"
said Tengku Abdullah.
"But most states have not lived up to their obligations and now FAM will
ensure local competitions are organised and run smoothly and effectively."
Tengku Abdullah said a paper will be drawn up to ensure the league is
run uniformly in all the States.
Despite the substantial grants, State FAs have been neglecting soccer
development. Their only emphasis seems to be the M-League.
State FAs assemble age-group teams for a couple of weeks for a carnival
national tournament and then disband them.
FAM insist on longer training periods and proper tournaments.
Club soccer offers an opportunity for young players to stay involved
after leaving school and before making the grade at a higher level.
Club teams like Umno, Prisons, MCIS, PKNS, Hong Chin, Penang Port
Commission, Sultan Suliaman Club, KL City Hall, Sungei Tong, Perak SEDC,
Kelantan PKNK, Terengganu Municipality Town Council, UMBC used to produce
players of caliber for the States and the nation.
But that was long ago.
For the national body to do the work of the State FAs in developing
players is a crying shame.
Still, someone has to do it.
Friday, October 30, 1998
KUALA LUMPUR MALAY MAIL face Malacca Telekom in the return leg of the FAM
Cup semifinals on Sunday but they were not working themselves to death in
Instead, the team had a splashing time at the Desa WaterPark, having an
evening of fun and relaxation.
MM accepted an invitation from the recreational park to take their mind
off the impending clash.
Telekom edged MM 1-0 in the first leg at TLDM Stadium in Lumut last
Sunday. The second leg is at KLFA Stadium.
(In the other semifinal, Kelantan TNB edged Kelantan JKR 3-2 in the
first leg in Kota Baru).
MM coach R. Subramaniam said although they are trailing by a goal, he
believes MM have what it takes to overcome Telekoms and make the final.
"It will not be easy but I am encouraged by the determination of the
players. They want to make amends for the first leg defeat," said
MM beat the Selangor M-League team 1-0 on Wednesday at the MPPJ Stadium
in a friendly match and are raring to take on Telekom.
"The players are relaxed now after the outing and we will get back to
serious work," said Subramaniam.
The players had a grand time on the rides, including Surf Sack, Splash
Out, Clown-a-Round, Pink Slide, Shock Wave, Bubble Pool, a 200 feet wide
Action River and the longest uphill water coaster in the region.
Wednesday, October 28, 1998
FOREIGN players could still feature in next year's M-League despite a FAM
decision earlier to do away with them.
FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah said yesterday the final decision
rests with the State FAs themselves.
"It was the State FAs who had called for the foreign players to be
barred because of the economic problems.
"A majority of them had agreed to do away with the foreign players when
we met the last time.
"But some of them have had a change of heart and are clamouring for the
continued services of the foreigners."
Tengku Abdullah said he personally has nothing against the presence of
foreign players in the M-League.
"It is just that they are expensive and with our economic problems, we
have have to rethink.
"The US dollar is not cheap and with most of the States facing financial
problems, we have to evaluate the situation."
Asked whether the option to hire foreigners could be left to the State
FAs instead of enforcing a blanket ban, Tengku Abdullah said it was best
discussed by the State FA representatitives at council level.
"The final decision lies with the council and we will wait and see when
we meet on Nov 8."
Whether the foreigners will still be around next year is anybody's guess
as the States have proven to be fickle and indecisive over the issue.
While the consensus at last month's council meeting was the exclusion of
foreign pros, most of them are having second thoughts now.
Some claim the views of their representatives at the council did not
reflect that of their State FAs.
"Why can't they just leave it open. Let the State FAs who can afford it,
hire the foreigners," said one State FA official.
Another official said: "We still need at least one foreigner in the team
and it will not cost much."
Sunday, October 18, 1998
KELANTAN will definitely be represented in the FAM Cup final next month.
Kelantan's JKR and TNB have qualified for the FAM Cup semifinals and
will meet each other for a place in the final.
The battle on the terraces will be equally interesting as that on the
field as the supporters will be split in support of the two competing
teams, both Kelantan based.
There will be no home ground advantage to speak of as both have been
playing their home matches at the Sultan Mohamed IV Stadium in Kota Baru.
Kelantan JKR finished top in Group B while TNB were runners-up in Group
JKR, going by their performance against Kuala Lumpur Malay Mail, had
wanted to meet TNB rather than defending champions Malacca Telekom.
Despite having qualified for the semifinal, they played their guts out
to earn a draw and thus top the group.
That result left Malay Mail who ended the group runners-up, the
daunting task of taking on the defending champions in the semifinal.
Malay Mail took an early lead and were going all out for a win but JKR
came back strongly for the equaliser and defended stoutly to keep the
score level, so as to top the Group.
TNB, on the other hand, had to dig deep into their reserves to hold
Terengganu Perkasa Alam to a 2-2 draw to pip them to the semifinals.
Debutants Perkasa have indeed been going great guns and it is a pity
they were edged out.
Perkasa needed to win, while TNB only needed a draw to book a semifinal
Now with both JKR and TNB having to face each other in the semifinals,
the only consolation the home fans will have is that they are assured of a
Kelantan team in the final.
JKR are coached by Awang Esa while TNB are coached by Kelantan's former
international Salim Mahmud.
In the other semifinal, Telekom start as favourites as they attempt to
reach their fourth FAM Cup final.
Telekom won the FAM Cup in 1994 and 1995 before they were denied a
hattrick by Johor FC in 1996. Last year, they failed to make the
semifinals and it was Armed Forces who won the championship beating Negri
Telekom have a lethal striker in Ghana's youth international Issac
Kuffour who has been plundering at will. He has scored 21 goals in 14
They also have an able defender in Uzbekistan defender Oleg Burov and
several calibre local players in P. Vinod, S. Manivanan, Manzoor Azwira
Abdul Wahid, Olaga Shankar, V. Sellathurai, Anuar Hassan to name a few.
Telekom, however will not be having homeground advantage as the Kubu
Stadium is not available.
They will now play their home match at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh as
Paroi Stadium is not available either.
Malay Mail, on the other hand have nothing to lose.
Having reached the semifinals in only their second season is indeed
They have a foreigner in defender Taso Notaras from Perth, Australia.
They also have several experienced players in goalkeeper M. Pavalamani,
defenders K. Viajantheran, N. Suresh, S. Mathen, midfielders S.
Balachandran, S. Saravanan and striker K. Hemadass.
They also have former KL youth players Mohd Imran Ahmad and N.
Ellangovan, while others like skipper Hasnul Ramlan Khairuddin, Azizul
Jamaluddin, Roshidi Ramli and Robert Maniam are all mainstayes of the
The odds may be stacked against Malay Mail, but their determined effort
might just see a surprise finalist.
The first leg will be played on Oct 25 and the return leg on Nov 1.
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS
Sabah G'kod 1 M'cca Telekom 6
T'ggnu P. Alam 2 Kelantan TNB 2
Kelantan JKR 1 KL Malay Mail 1
Negri BSN 0 Kedah PKNK 1
Friday, October 16, 1998
MALAYSIAN soccer is being kicked to death by people who are unfit to sit
on the FAM Council.
As FAM welcome the Sports Ministry's offer of help in resuscitating the
national team who have slipped from critical condition into a coma,
corrective surgery needs to be performed on the "diseased" council mostly
made up of State FAs representatives.
To start with, it's the State FAs, through their collective decisions in
the FAM Council who chart the course of Malaysian soccer.
Obviously, they must have been making bad decisions all this while as
the national team have been suffering flop after flop and declining
As the parent body get flayed and ridiculed, it is the State FAs
closeted in FAM that should take a long hard look at themselves.
Just ask: "What have they contributed to Malaysian soccer?
The destiny of the game here has been entrusted to these State FA
representatives who more often than not, are not suitable choices for the
Either these people are just figure heads in the State FAs or "big
shots" who are hardly involved in soccer managememt in their respective
States or are just FAM puppets.
Decisions are made with these council members often not knowing the
issues or subjects and they hardly have a clue of the consequences.
And then there are other council members who cannot make decisions but
get back to their State FAs for consultation.
Then there are those who make an effort to come up with ideas and
suggestions at council level but do not get the support of their State
Ironically, the knowledgeable people, well versed in the technical
aspects of soccer development, are not the ones sitting on the FAM
The point here is no matter how brilliant the planning and how much
money FAM or the Sports Ministry come up with, it all depends how well
programmes are, or can be, implemented.
And when it comes to execution of plans, it all falls back on the States
who are not doing much to support soccer development as they are merely
interested in immediate results in the M-League.
It is about time FAM decided who are fit to sit on the council by
vetting the State FA representatives.
They must get rid of the deadwood by insisting the State FAs only
nominate those well versed in the game. This would discount most of the
politicians for a start.
The Sports Ministry should be well aware of what is going behind the FAM
doors as National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Mazlan Ahmad
is a FAM Council member.
It is learnt that Mazlan's visit to Wisma FAM on Wednesday was to convey
Sports Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's message that it was not his
intention to intervene, but that he was forced to make a statement when
cornered by the media.
Muhyiddin was merely concerned about's FAM future plans especially for
the 2001 Sea Games which Malaysia are hosting.
But unless the Sports Ministry can do something about the State FAs'
setup and attitude, Malaysian soccer will remain in a coma.
Friday, October 2, 1998
MALAYSIAN soccer seems to have no shortage of scapegoats for the slipping
Everyone expects miracles to happen overnight without wanting to do the
Our demanding soccer public and administrators of the sport - at
national and state levels - just do not have the patience.
Even before the Olympic 2000 team kick a ball in the qualifying round
for Sydney, they have already been written off.
You can say the Olympic squad used up millions of ringgit in training
and overseas exposure the past three years and competed in the World Youth
Cup tournament in Malaysia last year.
That they have been groomed by an array of specialised coaches headed by
Tunisian Hatem Souissi.
But before anyone gets impressed by all these facts and figures, look
Instead of just three years of training, the Olympic players should have
at least 10 years of experience at top level football under their belt.
When selected three years ago, these players hardly had a strong
foundation - no thanks to the State FAs who paid no attention to
When you consider Hatem having to call for selection trials, you know
must be drastically wrong with Malaysian football. (Out of the 3,000
players who came, he picked 35).
The State FAs should have supplied him with a ready list of top youth
players if they have been doing their job. Wasn't there neglect in
Englishman Mike Brown, who coached the Pahang in 1992, once asked: "Can
you name 10 players who are 12 years old and can make the World Youth Cup
No name came to mind.
And Malaysia then were about to make a bid to host the World Youth Cup!
The World Youth Cup players should have been there even before the bid.
Soccer for 12 years olds? Just treat them to a carnival competition two
weeks a year.
None of the State FAs introduced any new talent other than those
shortlisted for the Olympics squad and later dropped.
A total of 12 players in Premier One and 16 in Premier Two, registered
at the start of the season, were born on or before 1977.
Out of 392 players registered in the first two seasons of the Premier
League, only 28 were below 21 years.
Of these, six players from Premier One and seven from Premier Two were
with the Olympics squad as early as 1995. Another five had attended trials
or trained with the Olympics squad.
Have these players not been spotted for the Olympic squad, they probably
would never been utilised by the State FAs.
Several States like Kedah and Kuala Lumpur did have commendable youth
development programmes but they too have slowed down.
The FA of Malaysia have to virtually force the State FAs to carry out
development programmes by introducing national leagues for Under-16 and
Under-18 players apart from the President's Cup.
Then there is the touch-football programmes initiated by German Olger
Obermann for kids to get started.
In five years' time, we should get quality players for our national
Our present Olympic players cannot be compared with the likes of
England's Michael Owens, France's David Trezeguet and Thiery Henry,
Brazil's Adailton Martins and Alex.
These shooting stars all started playing as 10 years olds and have come
through well supervised development programmes.
Three years of training and several million ringgit are certainly not
the answer to soccer supremacy.
DEFENDER K. Ramachandran, Kuala Lumpur's longest serving player, is left
wondering if he should have moved along when the offers came along.
And he has had ample time to regret as the season has been almost all
idle hours spent away from the pitch.
Ramachandran, who turns 26 on Oct 17, is in his sixth season with KL and
is just about left pleading for a fair chance to fight for a place in the
His nightmare started at the beginning of the season when he was
stripped of the skipper's band after two seasons.
He was accused of leading a boycott of former KL coach Chow Kwai Lam's
training to take up the team's grouses with KLFA president Datuk Seri
Megat Junid Megat Ayub.
This was just after KL's 5-1 hammering by Kedah in the season's opening
match in Alor Star.
Then injury put him out for a big part of the League with Mat Zan Mat
Aris taking over as coach and KL going 11 matches unbeaten.
Youngster M. Karunakaran, who stepped into Ramachandran's position, has
done well to keep his place.
And with Azlan Hussein back from the Olympic 2000 squad, there is
further competition in the backline.
Karunakaran and Abdul Ghani Malik are Mat Zan's first choice stoppers
with P. Saravanan playing sweeper.
"I am not worried of the competition in the team. I like it better when
the competition is keener as everyone has to work for his place," said
Ramachandran, a product of the KLFA youth development programmes.
"But, somehow, I get the feeling I am not wanted and that hurts because
I have always been loyal to KL," said the Taiping-born Ramachandran.
Ramachandran stuck with KL even when they failed to qualify for the
Malaysia Cup competition for four consecutive years.
And it was during this period that he had offers from Selangor, Negri
Sembilan and Perak.
He turned them all down, even some lucrative ones during those years of
conspicuous consumption, as he felt indebted to KLFA.
With his experience and maturity, Ramachandran should be a mainstay of
the team but he is not even among the KL reserves for tomorrow night's
opening Malaysia Cup match against Terengganu.
But Ramachandran is not giving up without a fight.
"As long as I am in the squad, there is hope. I am going to train even
harder to get my chance to play - even if for a few minutes.
"I still have a great deal to offer to the team," said Ramachandran who
has two FA Cup medals with KL from 1993 and 1994.
"But if my best effort is not good enough for the team, I would have to
"Maybe I will get the chance to prove myself all over again, maybe I
will not. But it would not be because of a lack of effort on my part,"
Mat Zan is using younger players in his line-up.
The older players like Liew Kim Tu, Tan Cheng Hoe, Nazim Din, Amiruddin
Ahmad and Zefus Othman have all been reduced to reserves.
The competition is keen with the youngsters wanting to establish
themselves and the seniors wanting to reassert themselves.
Mat Zan is certainly in a good position as all the competition for team
places brings out the best in the players.
Sunday, September 27, 1998
BOWLING sparked off the gold hunt for Malaysia, through Kenny Ang and Ben
BOWLING sparked off the gold hunt for Malaysia, through Kenny Ang and Ben
Monday, September 14, 1998
THE Prime Minister of Malaysia came a calling. So did Prince Edward of
England. It was indeed a very special occasion that necessitated a piece
of history at the Pyramid Bowl yesterday.
Kenny Ang and Ben Heng responded magnificently by delivering Malaysia's
first gold of the 16th Commonwealth Games at 5.58pm to add to the women's
doubles silver Shalin Zuikifli and Lai Kin Ngoh had landed in the morning.
Though they did not start off as the favourites, the Malaysian pair gave
Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the country much to cheer about at the
end of the men's doubles.
Dr Mahathir had surprised the packed crowd at the Pyramid when he
dropped by during the fifth block to add to the atmosphere. Fixated by the
action, he left his VIP seat at the sixth block to sit among the
spectators directly behind Kenny and Beng.
And the duo certainly felt his presence, firing on to lead the pack as
they done from the very first block.
Ben said: "I was shocked to see the Prime Minister and when he moved to
sit behind us, I knew we couldn't let him down.
"He certainly got me going and when we shook hands before he left, he
brought me more luck as I went on to score a 232 in the next game."
Kenny said: "I must admit that I was under more pressure when the PM sat
behind us. But it also brought out the best in me as I didn't want to
The fans at the alley were also surprised by the PM's presence and they
gave him a standing ovation when he left after the sixth block to attend
the rugby tournament.
Earlier, Prince Edward, the president of the Commonwealth Games
Federation, was also a witness on the opening day of the bowling
The Malaysian pair rolled a total of 3,552 pinfalls to beat Bermuda's
Antoine Jones and Condrad Lister by 223 pinfalls into second place.
Australians Michael Muir and Francis Ryan finished third with 3,229.
Ten minutes after Malaysia were awarded the gold, Datuk Dr P.S. Nathan,
the president of the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress, got a call from Dr
M to convey his congratulations.
Kenny, at 46 the oldest member of the team, and Ben, 24, had made his
day with their prime act.
KL 98 Commonwealth Games
A STRONG character steered the Malaysian pair of Kenny Ang and Ben Heng to