Friday, August 02, 2013 - 12:11 The Malay Mail
The question is, how much has the foreign legion contributed to Malaysian football thus far?
There were two occasions when foreign players were barred from the Malaysian league — first in 1999 but the ban was lifted three years later, and again in 2009, but foreigners were allowed to come in again this year.
During the ban, a bigger pool of calibre local players were available for the national team and Malaysia’s ranking in 2002, before foreign players were readmitted, was 128. And in 2009, it was 160.
Here are some facts on foreign players in the Malaysian League:
- They came from six confederations. Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Confederation of African Football (CAF), Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), Oceania (OFC) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
- They came from 71 countries (Europe . 22; Africa . 22; CONCACAF . 5; South America. 5, Oceania . 5 and Asia . 15).
- A total of 406 foreigners have played here since 1989 Now the billion-ringgit question:
- How much has been spent on these foreign players over the years? A billion ringgit?
- Were those who played for Malaysian teams all of top quality or were the teams shortchanged?
- Did these players help raise Malaysian football standards?
- If they did, why is Malaysia ranked 159 now?
- Other than playing for the teams, were the foreigners used for coaching clinics or any promotional events by the teams?
Yes, we had seen some notable names play in Malaysia like Juan Manuel Arostegui (Argentina), Laszlo Repasi (Hungary), Merzagua Abderrazak (Morocco), Emile M’Bouh M’bouh (Cameroon), Stephen Keshi (Nigeria), Karel Stromisk (Czech Republic), Tony Cottee and David Rocastle (England), Alistair Edwards, Abass Saad and Scott Ollrenshaw (Australia), Fandi Ahmad, K. Kannan, T. Padmanathan, R. Suriamurthi and Malek Awab (Singapore), Piyapong Pue-on (Thailand), Anto Grabo and Zoran Nikolic (Serbia) and Philimon Chipeta (Zambia).
But the majority of the foreign players just made up the numbers and at times were no better than the local players. Foreign players have also misbehaved in Malaysia while there have been cases of teams not paying them or fulfi lling the terms of their contracts. Such negative publicity has not done Malaysian football any good.
Despite all the criteria set by the FA of Malaysia on hiring foreigners, we still get half-baked players and keep hearing of state FAs and clubs picking the wrong players only to dismiss them.
At the end of the day, the loser is Malaysian football.
Just look at our current national team. The local players are earning high wages but the quality of their game is far from satisfactory. The foreign players do not seem to have helped our local players improve despite playing alongside them in the M League. Most of the local players still lack the basics of the game.
With the foreigners playing in key positions in the teams — especially strike-force — it is no wonder that the national team lacks quality strikers.
In fact, the general standard of our national team is below par.
National coach Datuk K. Rajagobal has come under fire for the national team’s poor performance lately, but though he is doing his best to raise the standard of the game, there is only so much he can do.
The world’s best coaches cannot turn the present national team into world beaters overnight because they lack quality. This is the sad truth, but many will not accept it.
Malaysian football has to clean house and start from the base with long-term plans if it desires to move up the ranks — but not by playing ‘A’ international matches which will only see them sink further.
The sooner we accept the reality and see a concerted effort by the clubs, state FAs and the national body the better. Maybe, we will see light at the end of the tunnel.
Otherwise, we will continue to spend huge sums of money on trying to put Malaysian football on the right path but see no returns.
TONY MARIADASS is the consulting
Sports Editor with The Malay Mail. A former
Sports Editor of the paper, he has 27
years of sports writing experience. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org