Wednesday, January 12, 1994

What now, Bakar? (11/01/1994 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 11/01/1994
Headline : What now, Bakar?

FA of Malaysia's fickle-mindedness has once again put them in spot.
FA of Malaysia vice-president Datuk Bakar Daud's statement on Sunday
that the national soccer body want their national team to compete in the
Asian Games, even if it means paying their way to Hiroshima, only
underlines the uncertainties in what they want.
And it was indeed surprising that Datuk Bakar had given the statement in
the wake of the FA of Malaysia Council's decision last July that they will
not send a team to Hiroshima, even if the Olympic Council of Malaysia
(OCM) give them the go-ahead.
This decision came about after the president of FA of Malaysia, the
Sultan of Pahang, soon after Malaysia's dismal performance in the
Singapore Sea Games in June had said that he saw no reason why the soccer
team should not go to Hiroshima just because of two defeats in the Sea
Games (to Myanmar 1-2 and Thailand 0-2 and failed to reach the semifinals)
as opposed to the team's fine performance in the Jakarta Anniversary
tournament, the Merdeka tournament and the first leg of the pre-World Cup.
However, the Sultan of Pahang changed his mind on his stand after the
advisory committee chaired by him discussed the matter later.
In this meeting, it was pointed out that if the national team were to
compete in Hiroshima, there will be a target set, and they would not be
ready for that yet because the newlook national team will not be ready for
the next two years.
The rationale behind this move was that although exposure is important,
the idea is to focus thoughts on longterm results and set targets only
when the national team are in a position to deliver.
It was said that the new team to be assembled soon will be kept together
for the next five years. Their main target will be the pre-World Cup
qualifying tournament in 1997.
This did not mean that there will be no targets set until 1997, but
while they were not expecting anything substantial for the next two years,
they were looking forward to making an impact in Asian soccer come 1996 in
the Asian Cup.
But all these plans have been blown away, with Datuk Bakar's plea for
the national team to compete in Hiroshima.
The question on everyone's lips is whether we are ready to compete in
the Asian Games, or merely want to compete for the exposure and suffer
another beating which is certainly not going to help our world ranking but
further demoralise the national players.
Or could it be because competing at the Asian Games is glamorous, even
if it means our pride takes a beating.
And are we going to rely on youth players to perform at a high level
competition as the Asian Games, or we are going back to square one by
recalling all the senior players, only to face another debacle and start
crucifying them all over again for no fault of theirs?
If we were really interested and serious about competing in the Asian
Games, we should have started preparing immediately after the Sea Games
debacle and not wait until the 11th hour to join in the bandwagon to
compete in the Games.
Besides, after all has been finalised for the M-League, Malaysia's
participation in the Asian Games will definitely throw a spanner in the
Lastly, but not the least, Datuk Bakar's statement has given room for
OCM to shoot them down in the open for no apparent reason, but for their
own folly.
Besides, OCM have already made it very clear since two years ago that
teams or individuals who do not meet the qualifying mark cannot pay their
own way to competitions.
With all these known, it was really puzzling how Datuk Bakar came up
with this statement.
Besides, this view of the soccer team competing in Hiroshima has
certainly not been discussed again after their earlier stand at the
Council meeting.
The next Council meeting is this Sunday, and probably Datuk Bakar has
jumped the gun with his personal thoughts on the matter after the
competitions committee meeting on Sunday of which he is the chairman.
This is not the first time that FA of Malaysia have been seen in the
public as being fickle in their planning because there were other
instances like the Tigers squad which was first formed two years before
the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and was supposed to have been groomed for
the Games.
But, before anything could happen, the team was disbanded as several
potential players were drafted to the already exisiting national team.
It is still happening. Remember the Barcelona Olympic squad? After 18
months of preparation and millions of ringgit pumped in, where are they
Among the other decisions which seemed fickle-minded are:
* Introducing the three-point system in the inaugural Semi-Pro season in
1989 but reverted to the orthodox system the very next season, before
going back to the three-point system again last year.
* The single format league which was in practice from 1982 to 1989 when
the game went semi-professional with two divisions, now reverts back to
the single format for the M-League this season.
* Introducing the National Club League last year, only to change the
format this year to see only one team from each state competing (with the
exception of KL who have two teams) in the new Amateur League. It would
have been more appropriate to introduce a Reserve League, which is finally
being introduced.
Generally, the FA of Malaysia are trying their level best to upgrade the
standard of the game in the country and to attain a respectable standing
among Asian countries but, more often than not, their path has been
impaired by not getting everyone in the association to think in one
direction or at least come to one common consensus and stick by it!

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