Is Malaysian football heading the right path?
Is foreign players and naturalised players the answer to Malaysian football woes?
The question of foreign players playing in the M-League and resorting to naturalised players to strengthen the national team has been raised and discussed on numerous occasions.
It has once again surfaced with the latest national coach Nelo Vingada toying with the idea of securing naturalised players to strengthen his team and declared that the domination of foreign players, especially in the striker’s role, has limited his selection of local players.
There is nothing new in what Vingada is saying because it is a known fact for close to a decade now at least, but the problem is only been compounded by continuously increasing the number of foreign players intake in the M-League.
And what Vingada plans has to strengthen his team is no surprise because he has to attain results during his short two-year term contract.
This again has been happening over and over where FA of Malaysia offer short contracts (normally two years) and expect immediate results.
What does the foreign coach do? He calls local experienced and older players into the squad as there is a dearth of young local talent, he has too short to build a team around youngsters as he need to produce immediate results and suggests to attain naturalised players.
One cannot blame the foreign coaches for their stance because they want some results to be shown in their CVs during their stint in Malaysia.
These foreign coaches normally will manage to string a few good results with the older and experienced players and probably with few naturalised players, but happens after they leave after two years?
We are back to square one as the older and experienced players will no longer be interested to continue playing their performance would be on the decline because of their age.
We start all over again and make the same mistake as Malaysian football continue to sink further.
Instead of addressing the issue at hand – the huge presence of foreign players in the M-League (more than 90 players this season) which is stifling the development of local players rather than assist in the development.
There is a dearth of local strikers because every team in the M-League hires foreign strikers.
After 14 matches of the Super League, the foreign players dominate the goal scoring list while the best local scorer is JDT’s Safiq Rahim with eight goals while the leading scorer Lebanese Mohamad Ghaddar with 20 goals
We need to reduce the number of foreign players plying their trade in the M-League to give opportunity for more local players to be exposed in the local league.
The reduction of quota of foreign players in the M-League will also mean that State and clubs will be more stringent in selecting and hiring the foreign players, which in turn will see better quality foreign players hired.
But for anything positive to happen for Malaysian football, it will not be an overnight process.
We have to have at least two Olympic cycles – eight years – and at worst a minimum six years programme to achieve anything substantial.
Coaches or technical directors hired must be given long term contracts so that they can start work with the youth and develop.
Otherwise Malaysian football will continue to hope for miracles to happen through their short term plans but end up disappointed each time and not to mention huge sums wasted money which could have been out to good use especially on development and long term visions.
Of course the fans will not be happy as they want to see instant results, but that is not going to happen and the sooner they realise that and support the long term vision and programmes, the better.
Just look back when Datuk K. Rajagobal as national coach won the Sea Games gold in 2009 in Laos after 20 years and winning the Suzuki (AFF) Cup in 2010.
It certainly did not happen overnight or Rajagobal waved a magic wand and everything fell in place.
For those who have short memory, Rajagobal started off with taking charge of the National Under-19 team in preparation for a quadrangular tournament in Kuala Lumpur involving S. Korea, Brazil, Portugal and Malaysia in 2006. He then took charge of the national Under-21 team preparing for Asian qualifier for the World Youth.
He was involved with the youth team for four years till 2009 when he was in charge of the national Under-23 and national team. He then handed over the Harimau Muda team (Under-23) to Ong Kim Swee and was fully in charge of the national team before he was unceremoniously discharged in 2013.
Many of his players who started with him as youth players are still playing with the national team which includes the likes of Shafiq Rahim, Azamuddin Mohd Akil, Amir Yahaya, Aidil Zafuan, S. Kunalan, Safee Ali, Mahalli Jasuli, Badrol Bakhtiar, Mohd Syazwan Zainon and Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal to name few
Coming back to naturalised players, is it the way to go forward for Malaysian football? Will it do more harm or good? Do we want players representing the nation who cannot sing the national anthem? How long will they don national colours? How will they blend with the local players? Will the local players resent them? Will places for local players be taken up by naturalised players and the national team is an ‘international team’ instead of a national team?
Malaysia is already a multi-racial nation with the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Punjabis and the various ethnic groups in East Malaysia with having their own strong points like artistic and skilful, intelligent, fitness, and strength and built. In short Malaysia has a world class composition and all it takes gelling them together with a fair mode of selection.
It is indeed sad that emphasis is not given to the AFC Under-23 qualifier where coach Ong is struggling to assemble a team when this is the team which should be moulded with the future in mind.
All priority should have been given to the preparation of this team without any hitches.
Latest is the appointment of a new technical advisor in Dutchman Peter De Roo after not renewing the two year contract of German Fritz Schmid which ended earlier.
How much De Roo can change things for Malaysia football is left to be seen.
FA of Malaysia is also planning to hire a ‘ranking consultant’.
As far I as I know, win matches over better ranked teams and the rankings will go up. The mode for ranking is all tabulated and known to all.
Is there a back door to raising the rankings?
Malaysian football never fails to puzzle and amuse!