Sunday, February 14, 2016

Rasa's hope for KLFA's rise

By Tony Mariadass

As one of  Kuala Lumpur FA's founding members, Datuk K. Rasalingam,  is counting on the team to regain their status as one of M-League's top sides after being in the doldrums for a long time.
Rasalingam who turned 75 recently, hopes with the new management in KLFA under president Datuk Seri Adnan Ikhsan, the chief secretary at the Federal Territory Ministry, things will look up for the city and eventually regain their status as among the top teams in the M-League.
Rasalingam a former council member of FA of Selangor from 1970 to 1972 and secretary frm 1973 to 1974, together with the likes of Datuk Goh Ah Chai, Hamzah Muhamad, MJ Vincent, Shariff Mustafa, Jeswant Singh and T. Manickarajah were responsible for the birth of Federal Territory Football Association in 1974.
FT as known then, made their debut in Malaysian football league in 1979. They renamed themselves as KLFA in 1986.
“We are the youngest FA in the history of Malaysian football but had worked hard from being whipping boys to emerge as a force to be reckoned in Malaysian football. We have won trophies (League champions twice in 1986 and 1988, Malaysia Cup champions for three consecutive years – 1987-1989, Charity Shield three times – 1988, 1995 and 2000 and FA Cup thrice – 1993, 1994 and 1999) many dreams who have longer history are only dreaming about,” said Rasalingam who is confined to a wheelchair these days.
“It was under the leadership of Tan Sri Elyas Omar (1985-1996) that the city team rose to become a powerhouse. It was his vision and commitment which saw the rise of city football.
“We also had one of the best development programme in the country and at one time were the factory of talent players and supply to the nation.
“We had done equally well in youth tournaments – the President, Razak Cup and age-group tourmaments.
“Our youth teams even did well internationally in world renowned tournaments like the Gothia Cup in Sweden,” said Rasalingam who was a FAM Council member from 1978 to 2000.
“Together with a good administration team working hard work we built KLFA. But to see them come down crumbling from a once powerhouse to be relegated to play in the FAM Cup (in 2013), was indeed sad.”
KL are indeed lucky that they are still playing in the Premier League this season after the dubious honour of again being relegated to the third-tier FAM Cup competition after they finished 11th in the 12-team Premier League last season.
However, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) reinstated KL in the second-tier league following the exclusion of Singapore’s Lions XII from the Super League.
“There is no substitute to professional administration and making decisions in the interest of the game and players. Of course funds is an essential part of the football setup. But everyone has to work hard to raise the funds and cannot just depend on one or two individuals.”
KL were even plagued with match fixing woes which further tarnished the image of the association.
But Rasalingam hopes that all that is a thing of the past and just a bad dream as KL make an earnest effort to move forward.
The Kuala Lumpur football team received sponsorship of about RM12 million sourced from various sponsors for the new season, double the amount received previously.
If properly managed it could well be tonic to the revival of the city team.

Adnan has expressed confidence the team will progress under new head coach Ismail Zakaria. He has also expressed confidence that KL Kuala Lumpur will earn promotion from the Premier League to the Super league by end of this season.

KL’s last silverware won was the FA Cup in 1999.
KL have signed up a host of experienced players in Azlan Zainal, Helmi Remeli (from Terengganu), A. Thamil Arasu (Selangor), Badrulzaman Halim, Mohd Fadil Hashim, Isma Alif (Police), Mohd Shoufiq Khusaini, Fahrul Razi Kamaruddin, Abdul Halim Zainal (Sime Darby FC) and Mohd Rasyid Aya (Felda United) and together with their foreign signings - Modibo Konte (Mali), Mario Karlovic (Australia), Leonardo Moreira de Carvalho and Anselmo Arruda da Silva (Brazil), expectations will surely be running high among diehard city fans.
Will KL do proud to their diehard fans and the officials who were responsible for the birth of city football?
It is left to be seen, but they have no excuse to let veteran football officials like Rasalingam see all their passionate effort to build KL football go down in ashes.

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