Wednesday, November 17, 1993

The ugly Singaporean (16/11/1993 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 16/11/1993
Headline : The ugly Singaporean

SINGAPORE are in the Malaysia Cup final. But their achievement would have
been laudable if only their fans had been as disciplined as the team.
I was surprised by the behaviour of the Singapore fans at the National
Stadium on Sunday night.
And this has nothing to do with me being a Malaysian.
My impression of Singapore fans had been one of high spirits and I have
never known them to be hostile towards their team's opponents.
This wasn't the case on Sunday. All right, they were not as hostile as
the fans in Kota Baru but still, it was unbecoming of Singaporeans -
particularly from a modern society - to engage in an exchange of words.
It started when Sarawak brought their crocodile mascot, Bujang Senang,
for the first time away from Kuching. But they didn't reckon on security
being stringent at the stadium.
The mascot was refused entry to the field as the team was about to go in
for their warm-up. But with the help of some Sarawak players, the mascot
was led onto it.
It was then that the Singapore fans clamored for their mascot - the
lion - to join Bujang Senang on the pitch.
Under normal circumstances, this would not have been allowed at a soccer
match. But Sunday was different.
Bujang Senang, on seeing the Lion trooping in, offered to shake hands but
the Lion surprisingly refused. Instead, it turned around and showed its
butt to Bujang Senang.
That sparked a personal duel between the two mascots. The situation was
defused when Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Brig Gen Lee Shein Loo was
invited to meet the players from both sides.
Lee sportingly met the Sarawak players and officials before meeting the
Singapore players.
But when the names of the Sarawak players were announced, the capacity
55,000 crowd jeered.
There was more to come.
The Sarawak players, in a goodwill gesture, kicked souvenir balls to the
crowd after the introduction.
What followed was a very unsporting gesture. The Singapore fans urged
those who were lucky to get the balls to kick them back onto the field.
In the end, the balls given to the ball pickers seated on the tracks.
Surely, Singapore fans could have behaved better.
A Singapore newspaper reported the incident as an attempt by the Sarawak
players to bribe the fans into supporting them. How low can they go?
One Singapore fan from the grandstand even threw a mineral water bottle
at Sarawak coach Alan Vest when he got up from his bench to walk towards
the sidelines.
It may not be serious compared to other incidents in Malaysian stadiums
but what was alarming was that this happened in Singapore.
A veteran sportswriter in Singapore commented: "It is not surprising
because what you witnessed is a suppressed society letting off steam.
"They cannot behave in this manner anywhere else because they will be
hauled up.
"They will be hauled up in the stadium too, but the chances of getting
caught is slim in a crowd of 50,000. It is sad that this is happening in
The writer said it was great to see the National Stadium packed to the
brim again, but it lacked an atmosphere.
"I have been to various stadiums in Malaysia and even with a lesser
crowd but the feeling is more electrifying," he wrote.
"But here, we have the crowd reacting for all the wrong reasons. They do
not even know how to cheer their team."
The last straw was when Singapore FA and Singapore Sports Council
officials treated a group of Malaysian sportswriters without much respect.

Tuesday, November 16, 1993

What next, Vest? (The Malay Mail)

ALAN VEST, in his three-year tenure, has taken Sarawak from the backwaters
of Malaysian soccer to the forefront.
If he decides to extend his contract with the Sarawak FA, the
possibility of the East Malaysian State progressing to become a major
force cannot be dismissed.
But the question most Sarawak fans from Kuching to Miri are asking is:
Will Vest prolong his stay as coach?
Vest, after having steered Sarawak to runnersup spot in the First
Division and semifinals of the Malaysia Cup this season, might have made
up his mind about his future.
Or maybe not yet.
Whatever decision Vest comes up with - his answer to the FA would
probably be sometime this week - it could point to where Sarawak are
"I have to seriously think about a few things before giving my answer,"
said Vest after watching his side lose 2-1 to Singapore in the semifinal
second leg at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Among the `few things' are offers from other States as well as a
national coaching job in another country.
But Vest stressed that money or the need for a change would not be the
criteria for his decision.
"I have enjoyed working in Sarawak. They are not only a nice bunch but
also, I was given a free hand as coach, which is a rarity in Malaysian
soccer," said Vest.
"I have no complaints about the people I work with, but there are other
factors which I must seriously consider."
He cited these factors as:
* WHETHER he will be allowed to retain the players he wants and whether
the Sarawak FA can afford them if they seek a hike in salary;
* WHETHER the FA can afford to sign the replacements he require;
* WHETHER the present players - the foreigners and three Malacca-born
players - will still be available for Sarawak; and
* THE fact that anymore infusion of players from West Malaysia might not
go down well with local sentiments.
Vest said if he were to remain, it would have to be for another three
"I don't believe in short-term contracts because nothing much can be
achieved in that sort of time," he said.
"There is still a lot to be done in Sarawak soccer and although I have
been very critical about Sarawak's development programme, I have realised
that this State have a short soccer history.
"They don't have enough clubs for coaches and players to emerge or a
progressive League to cultivate the interests of players.
"This is a growing State in soccer and obviously, it will take some time
before it catches up with the rest.
"There has been a stronger following in recent years and hopefully, this
will mean something."

Saturday, November 13, 1993

My best and bad year

S. SUBRAMANIAM yesterday bade farewell to Kuala Lumpur FA on a mixed note.
Mixed because he was sad to be ending a 12-year association but
satisfied because he managed to steer them to the only Cup which had
eluded them until this season - the FA Cup.
"KL might not have done well in the League but I am leaving with the
knowledge that I did my best for the team," said the 56-year-old
Subramaniam, who is now technical director of the Asian Football
Confederation (AFC).
Before this season, Subramaniam had also coached KL (formerly Federal
Territory) from 1982 to 1984 and thereafter became Director of Coaching.
He was recalled as coach this year, replacing Chow Kwai Lam.
In his report to KLFA on the Semi-Pro League team this season, he
mentioned that it had been a difficult and challenging period for him.
"Several players left for greener pastures while there were no adequate
replacements for those dropped," he wrote in his report.
"We had only three first choice players left from the 1992 season -
goalkeeper V. Murugan, defender Razip Ismail and midfielder Zoran
The other players from the 1992 squad were Shahrin Abdul Majid, Subadron
Aziz, Raja Azlan Shah Raja Soib, S. Balachandran, Yap Wai Loon and K.
Vijatheran, but they were not regulars in 1992.
"We were forced to introduce the back-up squad players earlier than we
had anticipated."
Among the back-up players introduced this season were goalkeeper Azrin
Azram, defenders Fairuz Ahmad Mohamad Yunus, Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Aziz, R.
Ramachandran, L. Suresh, midfielders P.P. Loarance David and strikers
Amzanie Che Ani, T. Gopinath Naidu and Mohamad Sham Mohamad Nor.
"As we were short of experienced players in certain departments, we had
to recall two players - goalkeeper Yap Kam Choon and Chow Siew Yai - while
a third, Serbegeth Singh, volunteered to play for us."
Subramaniam said it was unfortunate that KL lost Bulgarian striker
Atanas Pashev after he was injured in a FA Cup second round match against
Armed Forces.
"His absence left a vacuum in attack and we had to depend a great deal
on raw strikers like Gopinath and Shahrin.
Subramaniam has some recommendations to KLFA for next season. Among them
* APPOINT the manager immediately;
* COACH and manager should be given a free hand to select players needed
for vital positions;
* BONUS must be reviewed and the manager be given the prerogative to
decide additional bonus depending on the importance of certain matches;
* SEVERAL younger players can be considered for the new season. Among
them are goalkeepers Azrin, Hanim Ali, utility players S. Mathen and
Zairul Akramin Mohamad Darus, midfielders G. Chandrasegeran and Azrul Amri
Burhan and striker Mior Nor Samsul Kamal.
Even though KL failed to qualify for the Malaysia Cup, Subramaniam said
he had done his job to the best of his ability this year.

Wednesday, November 10, 1993

Going home (The Malay Mail)

MIKE BROWN did not waste any time getting a job after his team failed to
qualify for the Malaysia Cup soccer semifinals. Last week, he was
appointed assistant manager-cum-coach of English Premier League side
Brown, 53, said he was undecided about his future after Pahang defeated
Perak 2-0 in their last Malaysia Cup group match at Lumut. He had a few
options, which included one in England.
Obviously, it was Coventry, now managed by former England international
Phil Neal following the resignation of Bobby Gould last month.
Gould, who a few seasons ago was linked to Pahang, is now a television
commentator. He quit following the team's 5-1 defeat by Queen's Park
Brown's appointment at Coventry was reported in major dailies in England
last week.
The Neal-Brown combination is not new because the duo had a stint
together at Bolton Wanderers.
Brown has been involved in the game for the last 38 years, which
includes a playing career with Hull City (1953-66) and Lincoln City (one
season). He then joined Cambridge from 1968 to 1970 as player-coach.
He was assistant manager at Oxford for two years from 1970 and manager
for four years. He moved on to West Bromich Albion as assistant team
manager before swicthing to Manchester United as assistant manager from
1981-1986. He was with Bolton for five years before coming to Pahang.
Although there is a new management at Coventry, fans are still
clamouring for Gould's return. Last week, protesting Coventry fans invaded
the pitch at the end of the match against Sheffield United in support of
Nearly 400 suporters raced across the pitch at the end of a dreary 0-0
draw and stood in front of the directors box chanting: "Sack the board,
sack the board."
They waved banners proclaiming: `Board out, Gouldy in a reference to
Gould's announcement that he was in touch with a local group wishing to
take over Highfield Road.
It was learnt that he has had discussions with Singapore FA officials,
but nothing has been confirmed so far.