Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Guten tag from Berlin! ( June 2006- Malaysian Today)

Guten tag from Berlin!

Yes, this column comes from Berlin where the World Cup final will be played on Sunday at the Berlin Olympic Stadium where it is destined to eclipse everything that it has hosted since it was originally designed by architect Werner March and built between 1934 and 1936.

This historical stadium which was renovated in the summer 2000 at a cost of 242 million euros officially reopened in 2004, is the same venue where American Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games.

This is my second World Cup matches I am witnessing after the USA 1994 World Cup where I watched matches from the quarterfinals to the final at the Rose Bowl where Brazil beat Italy.

I had watched my first match in Berlin on June 30 where host Germany beat Argentina in penalty kicks after the 1-1 deadlock despite extratime.

Without doubt it was an excellent match in an extraordinary atmosphere, but I was not wishing or hoping that it had been the Malaysian national team.

Not that I was being not patriotic, because I am truly passionate of Malaysian sports which has been part of my whole life up to now.

It was just that the realistic and level-headed part of me took the better of me.

I could not help a question by a journalist at the recent Cabinet Committee for Sports press conference by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Seri Tun Razak, keep popping out in my head.

I could not believe the question when this journalist asked the Deputy Prime Minister if he dreamt Malaysia would oneday be in the World Cup.

The DPM diplomatically replied that it is everyone’s dream to see Malaysia in the World Cup, but his next statement more or less hit the nail on Malaysia soccer when he said: “Ghana had their independence at the same time as Malaysia. We have progressed in every account better than Ghana – development, economically, socially, politically and every aspect of life except soccer. Ghana is in the World Cup and we are not!”

My point is, when Malaysia have not won the Sea Games gold medals since 1989 when it was played on a rainy Aug 31 at the Merdeka Stadium, what are we talking about the World Cup!

Let us start winning the regional tournaments first before even dreaming of the World Cup.

Let us win the Sea Games gold, the Asian Games gold and be the champion of Asian Cup first. Let us learn to walk before we start running.

It may take another century or even more before Malaysian soccer can get anywhere close to the World Cup, unless of course Malaysia get to host the World Cup and get an automatic seat, like they did for the 1997 Youth World Cup.

But then again, even we get to play in the World Cup as host, we are going to be bundled out after the first round – just like the Youth World Cup!

Just a reminder – none of the Asian teams, who are leaps and bounds ahead of Malaysian soccer and qualified for the World Cup, managed to qualify for the round of 16!

So for now, I just enjoyed the best of the World Cup action in Germany and got soaked in the atmosphere which saw young, old and even toddlers filling up the Stadium.

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