Wednesday, July 27, 2011

High stakes in Malaysia versus Singapore match

Whether Malaysian soccer rise or fall will all depend on what happens tomorrow night at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil where a capacity 85,000 will fill the stadium in the World Cup Asian Zone qualifier.
That the fans are still flocking to the Stadium despite Malaysia's 3-5 defeat to Singapore at the Jalan Besar Stadium last Saturday, is ample proof that the Malaysian soccer team have captured the hearts of Malaysians and believe in them.
 Just two years ago when Manchester United visited Malaysia, the National Stadium was a sea of red jerseys and rooting for the Red Devils. But this time around for the Asian Tour of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, the crowd was equally divided in their loyalty. Infact, many fans who came wearing jerseys of the English clubs, still supported the Malaysian team. There was no jeers for the Malaysian players.
How things have changed since winning the Sea Games gold in 2009 and the AFF Suzuki Cup last year.
Tomorrow night, will also reignite the traditionally Malaysia-Singapore clashes which has always been fierce fought battles.
With two goals down, if Datuk K. Rajagobal's team give anything short of a good fight, they will be courting trouble from the fans.
The hype over the current Malaysian team has been built up so high, that a fall tomorrow could be a long fall down.
Whether the hype over the team is justified is another question entirely. Right now, the fans are behind the Malaysian team and believe in them and they have to deliver.
To chase a two goal deficit is not easy and a great deal of character, discipline and determination is required.
Had the Malaysian team returned with a 3-4 score, the battle would have been much easier.
Right now the fans are flooded by their emotion of faith and believe in the team. No amount of reasoning that it is going to be a tough task, is going to make the listen.
Let us hope that the players themselves are incensed by the same believe as the fans.
As much I personally belief that it is going to be an uphill task, I also believe nothing is impossible in a game of soccer.
Let us not talk about the "special ones" in the Singapore team and just treat them as another standing in path of Malaysia's progress.
Bring on everything that is needed to get past Singapore.
Let Malaysia be proud that results can still be achieved without naturalised players.
Bosnian-born Aleksandar Duric, together with Mustafic Fahrudin (Serbia), Daniel Bennett (England), Shi Jiayi and Qiu Li (China), will not be able to experience the same feelings as Malaysian players will in triumph.
Afterall, Duric is a 41-year-old player who should already be playing for veteran teams.
If our young, genetic and fit players cannot stop Duric, then they only have to blame themselves.
Let us not give excuses like we were overawed by the occasion and the pressure was too much from the fans!
The Malaysian Team had asked support and they have got it!
This time we are not playing on artificial turf and the players should have learnt from their mistakes. There is no room of playing in patches.
It has to top gear from the first whistle to the final whistle.
If that is given and it is still not good enough to see the Malaysian team win, then we just have to accept the fact that we are not good enough yet and have to go back to the drawing board and start working towards the Asian Championship.
Singapore will also be under tremendous pressure having to play in front of a 85,000 capacity Stadium which is alien to them and in a bigger pitch.
Singapore is definitely going to treat this match as a whole new match with the score at 0-0 and that is one luxury Malaysia cannot afford because whichever way they look at it, they are down by two goals.
Whoever, Rajagobal decides to field tomorrow night, it is probably the best lineup he thinks will get the result. The defence have been said to be the weakest in the team. But come tomorrow night, there is no weak-link in the team, but just one formidable team!
Will the team rise to the occasion to make their fans proud of them and probably double the support for the team overnight, it is left to be seen.
All the best to both Malaysia and Singapore and may the better team triumph.
My little wish as I watch the match on television is that our local commentators will not go overboard and become fans of the national team, but just be professionals and comment on the match as a neutral observers. Let the fans and viewers be the judge of the game. There have been times where I had silence the volume to enjoy the game!

1 comment:

Andrew Gopal said...

Good piece Tony. All the best to Harimau Malaya and coach Datuk Raja.At least the fans are now getting back to the stadium ha.