Monday, December 14, 2009
Malaysia take rough road to reach soccer final
Click here to watch the highlights of the match between Malaysia and Laos
Bernama in it's flash report, said Malaysia cruised to the final with their 3-1 victory over host Laos at the National Sports Complex Main Stadium in Vientiane tonight.
The match was shown live over TV2 and it was no cruise.
I am just waiting to see what superlatives will be used to describe Malaysia's entry to the Sea Games soccer final and the performance of the team by the Malaysian newspapers tomorrow morning.
RTM in it's live coverage and pre and post match comments, were all excited and giving out praises at free will.
Yes, I congratulate the Malaysian U-23 team for reaching the final, especially when they have risen well after their performance against Vietnam when they went down 3-1.
The very same people that condemned the team to the gallows after their loss and disgraceful behaviour against Vietnam in the group stages, are now singing praises.
This is nothing new to Malaysian sports. One day you can be a national hero and the very next day, you can fall from grace.
From what I saw from the live telecast, the worst thing that happened to the team was when they scored an early goal through Badrol Bakthiar.
From the time they scored, the team's problems began when they got complacent and threw away easy chances to score and took the Laos team lightly. Even goalkeeper Mohd Sharbinee Allawee Ramli, who has been getting many accolades recently, was guilty of taking things easy.
He even tried delaying tactics midway in the first half!
Little wonder that he was caught napping when a long range shot sailed past him where he feebly tried to stop the shot with one hand.
That equaliser by Laos late in the second half, woke the Malaysian players as they went to score two quick goals in the last ten minutes by Badrol and Safiq Rahim for the victory.
Basically what the team displayed is the "Malaysian sports syndrome" where they get complacent very fast without achieving anything at all.
I am sure that coach K, Rajagobal, although happy that his players booked a berth in the final, would have taken them to task in his post match analysis.
But they can rest assured that they will not have the same luxury they had tonight against Laos, when they play Vietnam in the final on Thursday. (Vietnam defeated Singapore 4-1 in the other semifinals).
Beat Vietnam in the final, and earn the due respect.
It is too early to celebrate. Nobody will remember runners-ups.
Above all, here is an opportunity to make amends to their earlier loss to Vietnam.
Without a doubt, it is not going to be an easy match against Vietnam and the Malaysian team will definitely start as underdogs.
And that is indeed a good thing because the team will not take anything for granted against Vietnam and will work very hard throughout the match.
So let us all hold our celebrations and accolades until after the final.
If we win the Sea Games soccer gold medal after 20 years, then kudos. But even then, it is not be the be-all and end-all. It is just a beginning of a long journey back to the glorious days of Malaysian soccer.
But if the Under-23 team lose to Vietnam, the critics and all those who had joined the bandwagon to heap praises the last few days, will be the first to criticise the team and the coach.
So players, do get caught in the euphoria and all the sugar coated praises, but keep your feet firm on the ground and help yourself, because when you are down, no one is going to extend a helping hand, but only bury you further.
Take tonight's victory with a pinch of salt and look ahead for the tougher match ahead.
Have the last laugh and do not be laughed at!