Friday, July 29, 2011

High expectations dashed, but keep the fire burning!

The fans came in full force to support the Malaysian team with hope that they will overturn the two goal deficit against Singapore from the first leg of the Asian Zone World Cup qualifiers at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night, but returned home with mixed feelings.
Whether we will see another record crowd like last night to support the Malaysian team again, is left to be seen.
But if the fans really believed in the team, they should continue to return in full force because the truth of the matter is that Malaysian soccer still has a long road ahead of them and they need every ounce of support to reach the pinnacle.
Sadly, the media hyped up the match to a frenzy atmosphere without giving the real scenario.
The real scenario was that it was an uphill battle last night and win or lose, the Malaysian team had given their best and should look forward to building the team for the 2015 Asian Cup championship.
When the Malaysian team still have problems defeating teams from the Asean region - be it with their naturalised players or not - we still have a long way to go.
Even if Malaysia had gone to defeat Singapore, it would have been another struggle in the next round and ultimately to dream that we will make the final rounds of the World Cup qualifiers, was indeed a futile and frustrating exercise.
The reality check is that the Malaysian team is still a long, long way to becoming among the best in Asia.
Let us qualify for the Asian Cup final, before we even dream of the World Cup.
I am in no way ridiculing the Malaysian team. Merely stating the facts.
Yes, we have improved over the years, but still a long way off to becoming a feared team in the region.
And my fear is will this team go one to improve further, or take a downward trend with the influx of foreign players back in our M-league next year.
Without doubt, one of the reasons for the rise in our soccer standards was because local players were exposed at playing in the M-League.
Now with the foreigners back, many of our local players are going to warm the bench, especially strikers, midfielders and centrebacks. Is this going to help our national team? I have argued on this matter many times over and my stand still remains the same - keep the foreigners out till our overall standard of the League has reached a respectable level with our local players.
Coming back to Datuk Rajagobal's squad, it was indeed a heartwarming sight to see the players shed tears, bury the faces in the ground and applaud the fans.
It only meant that players wanted so much to do well and win the match and were disappointed that they could not deliver.
This I have not seen for a while. There have been occasions where I have seen players walk into the dressing room after a defeat without any feeling and laughing and cracking jokes and singing in the bus!
At least we know that we have some dedicated players who are patriotic and want to do well. For that alone, the fans must keep coming back each time they play.
Let us now have a long term programme for Rajagobal and Ong Kim Swee's teams and continue the hardwork and play top class matches. If some national players can find attachments with top clubs overseas, it will be great.
But above all, these players must keep their feet firm on the ground and their heads in place, and continue their hardwork.
Results will come eventually, but not without pain and sacrifices!
Till the next match the Malaysian team play, continue to wear the national jerseys and keep the passion burning.


Andrew Gopal said...

Yes Tony, agree with you. Lets keep the fire burning. Harimau Malaya has got the roar. The fans are there.

rizal hashim said...

rajagobal is one lucky chap la tony. If this defeat had taken place a decade ago, he would have been torn to shreds in the press conference itself. questionable tactics and team personnel on his part la tony, and raja is lucky indeed the present crop of journos is generous in their praise but reluctant to dish our criticism when the situation warrants it. when we are mere onlookers, thailand, indonesia and singapore are in the third round of the pre-world cup. losing to singapore is unacceptable la tony. kalau uzbekistan or japan i can comprehend. defence koyak, whose fault? the coach for persisting with the same line-up, no tinkering, no fantasy, no risk-taking...