Monday, November 8, 1999

Gloomy stars (07/11/1999 - Sunday Mail)

Publication : SUM
Date : 07/11/1999
Headline : Gloomy stars

IT is happening again. In the Malaysia Cup, the insufferable soccer stars
are letting their teams down. When you think they do not try hard enough
at international level, they are proving to be lazy at home too.
To the consternation of their employers, the supposed cream of Malaysian
soccer have gone sour in their performances as the states battle for
Malaysia Cup semifinal qualification with two matches left.
One can empathise with national coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim for being
less inclined to choose stars while going for less skillful players who
have more passion for the Malaysian shirt.
In retrospect, during the preparation for September's Brunei SEA Games,
Mailsport had warned Rahman not to depend too much on the established
players for they have been known to be a let-down when it matters.
True enough, they dragged Malaysia's soccer reputation further down the
pits by getting humiliated 2-1 by Singapore and getting whacked 6-0 by
The indifferent players would not feel the hurt but for Rahman, the
Brunei episode numbed him to the marrow and taught him never to trust
stars again.
But on familiar ground, on the M-League stage where they have been
strutting, a place where their employers thought they would save their
best for, the stars are turning out to be duds.
It is no coincidence that the teams with the stars are the ones having a
stormy time in the Malaysia Cup competition.
Pahang and Penang, the best two teams of the M-League in the past two
seasons, star-studded Negri Sembilan and 28-time Malaysia Cup champions
Selangor are not even among the frontrunners in the race to the
Look at their positions in the Malaysia Cup table. They are left uneasy
and squirming. A good team are just not measured by the number of stars on
their side but by consistency.
Everything points to the hotshots holding back in their performances and
far from being the professionals they claim to be.
Whether their performances have anything to do with their differences
with their State FAs over late payment of wages and bonuses is another
In any case, as professionals, they cannot allow these problems to
affect their performances.
If they have problems, they should go through the proper channels and
not take them nto the playing field and take paying fans for a ride.
So much so, Negri coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim has come out in the open
to say that his key players have let him down. Selangor coach K. Rajagopal
and team manager Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad said their team can play like
champions one day and novices next day.
Penang's Moey Yok Ham is too much of a gentleman to take his players to
task but that is probably the very reason why the Panthers are facing
uncertainty in the Malaysia Cup semifinal battle. Pahang, also well armed
to the teeth, are in the same boat.
Coming back to the national team where as Rahman picks his Asian Cup
training squad, uppermost in his mind will be whether the boys will play
their hearts out for the nation.
Probably the best way is to invite M-Leaguers who think they have the
heart and passion for the Malaysian shirt to turn up at Wisma FAM where
Rahman can make his selection from there.
It is sad that we have to resort to ideas like this when players should
give their right arm to play for the country.
At this stage, Rahman is indeed right to say he gets better satisfaction
from a bunch of players with lesser talent but with the heart to perform
then spoilt stars.
Anyone out there with the heart and passion for the Malysian shirt?
Stand up and be counted.