Monday, February 8, 1999

Lost souls! (The Malay Mail)

THEY are the "lost boys" with no future and no hope of reversing
Malaysia's soccer fortunes.
Nothing can be done to save the national team with the present
generation of Malaysian footballers. Players who have lost their character
in their lust for easy money.
The FA of Malaysia have to accept this as their bad karma for we really
reap what we sow.
The future lies in the next millennium, in the kids now aged about 10
years old who are kicking balls around the kampungs, streets and patches
of green.
Sure, waiting for these kids to mature will take time but we must
exercise patience and do the right thing instead of wasting money and
effort on the hopeless lot now plying their trade in the M-League.
We must infuse the children with professional ethics like they do in
Europe. Make it an integral part of their soccer education to inculcate
character and a sense of national pride and professionalism.
For far too long, the fans have been led up the garden path as FAM keep
trying, and failing, with their programmes to come up with a winning team.
One can argue that the present national players are still young and just
starting out. But their path is full of potholes of their own making. They
lack a sense of purpose just like their predecessors of the past two
And we cannot really blame the system. FAM have done everything
possible, from pumping money into State FAs and virtually taking over
their development programmes, to nurturing national youth teams.
But yet the senior national teams keep on embarrassing the country. The
fans cannot comprehend why Malaysia are even no match for less developed
countries like Vietnam and Laos.
The problem is the Malaysian players lack professionalism and ambition.
They expect easy money without having to produce results and the M-League
offers them that.
They do not behave like professionals when donning national colours and
expect FAM to heap lavish incentives on them.
The last Malaysian player of some charisma was Zainal Abidin Hassan.
Whatever one may say about him, he was a commanding figure who could play
a grand game if he chose too. His longevity is proof of that.
But it is a sad indictment of the game that the last quality player was
a throwback from 20 years ago. From the generation which produced the last
great Malaysian team with the likes of Soh Chin Aun, Mokhtar Dahari, R.
Arumugam and company.
It has been downhill all the way since then.
These days, players only need to be at their mediocre best to be treated
like lords by the States. So why bother trying to be the best?
Look at Khairul Anaur Baharom, Faizal Zainal and A. Ganesan. They are not
even exceptional in their State teams, let alone shine at international
The fact that they could not even make their mark against Under-23 teams
in the Dunhill Cup in Ho Chi Minh City underlines their lack of calibre.
The players from Olympic 2000 should be better because under Hatem
Souissi they have had the ideals of professionalism instilled in them
during the past four years.
Even so, these boys have rebelled against Hatem saying he is too strict
and tried to oust him. That speaks volumes about their professionalism.
Like their seniors, they want everything but are not prepared to work
for it.
Sad to say, the Olympic 2000 squad cannot be really seen as Malaysia's
hope because they too lack motivation and drive.
Not many of our players dream of playing abroad. They are content with
the easy life the M-League offers them. Either they feel they are not good
enough or just do not have the desire to improve further.
It is this indifferent attitude that is killing the game.
We need ambitious players like Lim Teong Kim and Fandi Ahmad before
Malaysia can dream of being the best in the region, let alone Asia.
So let us stop dreaming of quick success for we simply do not have the
players for it.
Five or more years is more like it. And that is not too long a wait if
Malaysian soccer walks tall again like it did in the 60s and 70s.
But for that to happen, we must teach the youngsters all about pride and

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