Friday, July 22, 2016

Let's just move on

Level Field
 (H) Let’s just move on
 So much has been said about the current predicament of the national football team and the FA of Malaysia.
Indeed, football in the country is at its lowest ebb. And many questions remain unanswered as FAM struggle to stay on track.
Several issues have surfaced in the most surprising manner and one cannot help but wonder what the real agenda is behind all these controversies.
Yes, if something is not right with Malaysian football, it must be addressed and corrected. But there is a proper channel to deal with such things.
What is the point of going on a witch hunt or looking for scapegoats?
If there are signs of wrongdoing, change the present administration or do something to better the state of football in the country. But let it be done through the right processes.
Washing dirty linen in public, especially when it is unverified, is of no help to anyone or the game.
In this context, there is still no clarity about the retirement of national players Safiq Rahim (captain), Aidil Zafuan Radzak, S. Kunalan and Amirulhadi Zainal.
True, it is the prerogative of these players to retire but the manner in which their retirement was announced does not portray them as true professionals.
These are questions that football fans want answers to:
·        Why didn't the players send their official resignation letters to FAM through their respective clubs, and why did they choose to make their decisions known through social media?
·        Why did they decide to retire after the Oceania tour and not decline the national call-up for the tour and make their retirement plan known then?
·        Why did they waste public funds by going on the tour and then announce their retirement?
·        Since when did players become such experts in training methods that they dared to question national coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee's credibility?
·        Were the players sincere about serving the nation or did they just take it for a ride?
As mentioned earlier, it is the players’ right to retire but the national coach should not even think of taking them back if they changed their minds.
Former international Santokh Singh was spot on when he asked: “Why all the big fuss about the retirement of the four players?”
Is Malaysia so deprived of talent that it cannot go forward without the infamous four?
Maybe the departure of the four players is actually a blessing in disguise for FAM. Now, it can finally decide on long-term plans and start working with a young team.
On too many occasions, the national body has come up with short-gap measures or has been in denial mode, still believing that the national team can perform a miracle when they are scrapping the barrel and Malaysian football is in the pits.
I can understand Santokh’s sentiment that Malaysian football should just forget about the four players and move on because he comes from an era (1970s and 1980s) when Malaysia had an abundance of talent.
Malaysia had a national team and a ‘B’ team in place and any time a player decided to retire or was forced out because of injuries, there were ‘ready-made’ replacements.
In fact, the competition for a place on the national team was so intense that the coaches had a hard time naming their final squad. In fact, very little separated the players in training, normally about 30 of them at any one time.
At state level, it was not uncommon to see national players sitting on the bench as there were so many quality players available and battling for a place in the first XI.
But those days are long gone.
Seated second from left: Ex-internationals Datuk Soh Chin and N. Thanabalan and Datuk Santokh Singh (behind Thanabalan)
Another household name, Datuk Soh Chin Aun, said: “Players must have the desire to play for the nation. The moment they say they want to quit, it is pointless to try and change their mind or hope that they will return.
“It is an honour to don national colours and players would want to be on the team for as long as they can contribute. The moment they say they want to quit for whatever reason, we just have to forget about them.”
As far as FAM are concerned, the sooner they make way for new faces, the better for Malaysian football.
But it must said that managing FAM is not as easy as managing a club or state FA. The national body has 16 affiliates, which actually are the governors of the game because all their decisions are collective and consensual.
They have to take part of the blame for the ills of Malaysian football.
Take their decision to have foreign players in the league and increase the number of them from year to year. Like it or not, there is a dearth of quality players in the national team because the foreigners occupy key positions in the state teams, like defenders, midfielders and strikers.
So come Sept 15, when FAM hold their congress meeting, everyone who is passionate about Malaysian football should speak up without fear or favour and state the changes they are clamouring for. They should make themselves heard and strive to make a difference.
On their part, FAM members should be prepared to listen and be corrected if they are wrong.
Let’s move forward for the sake of Malaysian football, which is still alive and well among the fans!

TONY is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​

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