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."
Sunday, November 22, 1998
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."