Rajagobal is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't
Monday, August 05, 2013 - 14:05
WHO is responsible for the national team’s debacle in Japan last week where they lost three friendly matches against clubs and conceded a total of 12 goals?
Critics already want national coach Datuk K. Rajagobal to be sacked for having taken the team to Japan during the fasting month and then admitting that it was a mistake as the majority of the players did not have the energy to play two of the three matches as they were held late morning and afternoon.
The national team lost 2-0 to J-League’s Shimizu S-Pulse — this game was played at 7pm - and then 5-0 to Shonan Bellmare and Tokyo Verdey, games that were played in three halves of 30 minutes.
It was a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t for Rajagobal.
He was desperate for practice matches prior to playing against Barcelona FC on Aug 10 and as none was forthcoming, he decided to go to Japan at the invitation of Japan FA.
Critics say Rajagobal, as an experienced coach, should have known better than to take the team for the friendlies against the Japanese clubs when his players were not at their physical best.
“With hindsight, I should not have taken the team to Japan. But at the time I needed the matches and our players were keen to play. And the final decision to go to Japan was endorsed by the FA of Malaysia,” said Rajagobal.
“I am not shifting the blame to anyone. Yes, I wanted the matches, but it was with the good intention of seeing the team prepare for the matches ahead — Barcelona FC and the Asian Cup campaign."
But critics say Rajagobal should not have put Malaysia in such an embarrassing situation.
The knives would also have been out for Rajagobal if he had not gone to Japan. He would have been slammed for fearing mere clubs.
“As far as I am concerned, I did everything in the best interests of the team. Yes, conceding 12 goals was embarrassing, but we still learnt in the process,” remarked Rajagobal.
While there are hints the other coaches, ex-internationals and even some in the media are conspiring to get rid of him, Rajagobal stressed that there was no such move among the players.
Rajagobal said although he respected the views of the critics and the media, he had a job to do and he wanted nothing to distract him from that.
I will take the blame, says Subahan
NATIONAL team manager Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal will shoulder the blame for taking the team for friendly matches in Japan during the fasting month.
“If critics are looking for a scapegoat, I will take the fall. In any case, as team manager, I endorsed the trip and I take full responsibility for it, although it was a collective decision,” said vice-president of FA of Malaysia, Subahan, after the national team were roundly criticised for losing in Japan.
“As far as I am concerned, there is no issue at all in having agreed to accept the Japan FA's invitation to play their clubs or agreeing to play during the fasting month,” he added.
"Frankly, I am shocked at the criticism hurled at us for it."
Subahan said the FA of Malaysia saw the Japan FA's invitation as the start of a long-term relationship, with the latter having agreed to assist Malaysia in regaining their past glory.
“Accepting Japan’s offer was nothing to be ashamed about as they have evolved into a world-class team.
“Our losses to their club teams should be looked at as a learning curve.”
He said it was unfair to hold national coach Datuk K. Rajagobal responsible for the losses in Japan or going there during the fasting month.
“We are doing our level best to prepare the team for the Asian Cup and it is surprising that every move we make is being slammed. I wonder if there is a hidden agenda behind all the criticism.
“What I cannot understand is why the past internationals and coaches are jumping on the bandwagon when they should know better and support us.”
Subahan said neither he nor Rajagobal should be judged until after the Asian Cup is over.
“We have been given a task to complete with KPIs, so let us be judged at the end of it. If we do not meet the KPIs, we will move on. We are not here to occupy this seat forever. We are here to do a job and we are fully committed to it. And as patriots, we want to make our nation proud.”