HOW James Wong wished he was born at the right time seeing his State of
Sabah going great guns.
The passion for the game is still burning strongly in the former
international striker as Sabah captured the M-League title and reached the
Malaysia Cup final this season.
James wished he could have been younger to lend his much-feared feet to
the Rhinos, who will take on Selangor in the Malaysia Cup final tomorrow.
James said: "It is indeed a great achievement for Sabah soccer to be in
the Malaysia Cup final for the first time ever.
"For Sabah soccer-loving fans, there never has been a greater moment
"I wish I was part of the team, because it is the dream of any soccer
player in the country to play in the Malaysia Cup final."
However, James said he too had his great moments. "Although I did not
play in a Malaysia Cup final, I certainly came close to it in 1979
(Stanley Chew was coach) when we qualified for the semifinals but lost to
James, who now manages a band comprising his brothers (who also played
for Sabah), added: "Maybe this time around, Sabah will make amends for
that disappointment faced by Sabah fans 17 years ago."
James believes that the Rhinos are capable of wresting the Malaysia Cup
from Selangor though it will be played at Shah Alam.
"In a Cup final, there are no real favourites. It is always close and
the team that make the least mistakes will have the edge," he said.
"Sabah have already bagged the League title and I see no reason why we
cannot lift the Malaysia Cup too.
"Of course, Selangor have more depth and experience, but that does not
mean Sabah are not able to match them.
"I see the match as a battle between the rookies of Sabah and Selangor's
experience and depth.
"Sabah players may be inexperienced but they are fighters and equally
determined to taste glory.
"Maybe Sabah's hunger to taste glory will see us emerge victors after
"I wish Sabah all the best and I am sure they will do East Malaysia
proud - win or lose," added James.
Friday, December 27, 1996
Wednesday, December 25, 1996
MICHELLE Ollerenshaw has an Xmas wish: A Malaysia Cup winner's medal for
husband Scott come Saturday.
Sabahan Michelle, a former national karate champion who married the
Aussie hotshot on April 8, said:
"My wish for Christmas is for Scott to get a winner's medal to cap a
"I want Sabah to beat Selangor and lift the Malaysia Cup."
Sabah, the League champions, are in line to create history by becoming
the first East Malaysian team to win the coveted Malaysia Cup at Shah Alam
Michelle has been a source of joy and support for Ollerenshaw.
Being a top athlete herself, she understands the pressures a sportsman
faces and is always there for Ollerenshaw.
"He has done rather well despite the pressure of not scoring in eight
matches at the start of the season.
"I urged him to do his best and not get too anxious. It obviously worked
as he has emerged the top scorer in the League for the second consecutive
season," said Michelle.
Ollerenshaw hit 25 goals for the Rhinos in his first season in 1994 but
missed out on the Golden Boot award as Kelantan's Hashim Mustapha went two
better with 27.
Last year, Ollerenshaw not only bagged the Golden Boot with 22 League
goals, but was also named the Most Valuable Player at the SAM/FAM Glamoir
World of Sports Annual awards.
This year, Ollerenshaw emerged the top scorer again with 18 goals in the
League. He has also bagged eight goals in the Malaysia Cup and one in the
Ollerenshaw is undoubtedly the most successful foreign player to grace
His record speaks for itself. He has a FA Cup winner's medal, a League
champion's medal and won the Golden Boot twice in three seasons.
"I look after him well," said Michelle, laughing.
"There were suggestions earlier when the goals dried up that marriage
had affected his performance. But he has proven it otherwise. In fact, I
think marriage has done him a world of good."
Michelle will be at Shah Alam Stadium shouting herself hoarse with the
other Sabah fans on Saturday.
"Many think Sabah are at a disadvantage playing at Shah Alam. But it's a
Cup final and everything is equal.
"It would be great if Scott scores and Sabah win. It would be the best
Christmas gift I've ever had," said Michelle.
Monday, December 9, 1996
AS 1996 draws to an end, it will be a year remembered in soccer where
three godfathers of the game had their curtains drawn on them in their
Or at least two have been unceremoniously booted out of their
associations while the other is very likely to suffer the same fate.
The three are former Kuala Lumpur FA president Tan Sri Elyas Omar,
former Johor FA deputy president Datuk Suleiman Mohamed Noor and Kedah FA
deputy president Datuk Ahmad Basri Mohamad Akil.
Elyas and Suleiman are no longer with their respective FAs and Basri is
on the verge of leaving the association.
Without doubt, all three have done a great deal for their State FAs and
the rise of soccer in their respective States.
It is through their time, dedication, vision and love for the game that
their respective States have hogged the limelight in Malaysian soccer.
But sadly, Elyas and Suleiman, were dumped after they lost their
influence as they no longer held Government posts.
What they had done over the years, was fast forgotten and they were made
scapegoats for the decline in recent years and the associations' poor
No doubt, the associations probably needed someone more influential.
Elyas and Suleiman, with all their experience and contacts, could have
still been useful to them and in different areas.
Instead, they became victims of the winds of change and politicking
within the associations.
The fact that Elyas is still the vice-president of the FA of Malaysia
and the Project manager of the 1997 Youth World Cup team only speaks
volumes of his clout and capabilities.
Though Suleiman may be out of the mainstream when it comes to soccer,
his years of experience could still be utilised.
A council member of the Johor FA, who declined to be named, said:
"Suleiman, despite all his faults, still delivered and did his job to the
best of his abilities.
"There were times when he was like a dictator, but he meant well and had
the interest of the game at heart.
"When he was around, there was not a time when the players or coaches
had problems with their salaries being delayed.
"After all is said and done, Datuk Suleiman's contributions to Johor
soccer have to be acknowledged."
Many KL fans echoed a similar opinion of Elyas.
"For what he did to KL soccer, he did not deserve to be treated that
way," said an ardent KL soccer follower.
"If not for Elyas, KL would have just been whipping boys. He transformed
the City team with his professionalism and vision for the game.
"In the end, he had served his usefulness and was discarded."
Basri is also facing the same problems with moves to oust him. He has
clearly indicated that he will not be around, if his services are not
But it will be a pity, because he was the man who turned Kedah soccer
around and saw them become a powerhorse.
However, all his contributions, dedication and vision have suddenly been
forgotten, especially since he has recently retired from his Government
But at the national level, Basri's vision and ideas are still very much
sought by the FA of Malaysia.
It is indeed sad to see people like Elyas, Suleiman and Basri being
treated shabbily, after all they have put in the game.
Of course, fresh blood, younger officials and ideas are needed, but at
the same time, it is also wrong to discard experience with a stroke of the
The changing of guard is a normal process of a cycle, but it must be
done with grace and tact.
Though the States may have had enough of the trio, they are still useful
at national level and should be given the task of putting Malaysia on the
world map as a strong soccer nation.
Thursday, December 5, 1996
WHAT Lucas Kallang failed to achieve as a player, he hopes to do as a
The 37-year-old, who has been Sarawak manager cum coach Alan Vest's
assistant the last four seasons, is onto something great as Sarawak aim to
reach their first ever Malaysia Cup final.
The Crocs have already qualified for the semifinals with a Group B match
to spare, against Brunei on Saturday in Bandar Seri Begawan.
With everything pointing to a semifinal clash against neighbours Sabah,
history is in the making, that this year's Malaysia Cup final will feature
an East Malaysian side for the first time.
Naturally, Lucas, who hails from Long Julan, Ulu Baram, wants to be a
part of that.
Lucas, nicknamed the "Ironman", was a defender or midfielder with
Sarawak from 1979 to 1986 but the State achieved little result.
But Sarawak have become the most consistent team in Malaysian soccer in
the last six years under Vest and Lucas is glad to be part of the team.
"I am very grateful to be associated with the team and it is an
experience I will cherish," said Lucas who is among the first batch of
local coaches to attain the A licence conducted by Richard Bate in 1992.
In fact, his coaching licence number is 001!
A teacher by profession, Lucas was more interested in basketball during
his college days. He was still a trainee teacher when he played soccer
Named Sarawak's Footballer of the Year in 1983, Lucas got involved in
coaching at school level and later got the preliminary coaching badge from
the Soccer Centre of Excellence in Lilleshall, England. He was also on
attachment with Sheffield Wednesday.
In 1990, he attained his B licence under Bates before taking his A
licence in 1992.
"I am lucky to be working with Vest. He is a true professional in all
sense of the word and I have learnt a great deal from him," said Lucas.
"Having been his assistant for four years is a great experience for me.
It is certainly a world better than being on attachment with clubs for
short periods," said Lucas.
Other local coaches who like Lucas stand to benefit from working with
foreign coaches are Selangor's assistant coach Mohamad Shah Norbit (with
Ken Worden) and Sabah's Justin Ganai (with Ronald Smith).
Wednesday, December 4, 1996
FORMER national coach Trevor Hartley is keen on working in Malaysia again.
The 49-year-old Londoner, who was in Singapore for a week to conduct
preliminary coaching courses for school teachers, said he will definitely
consider offers to work in Malaysia.
"Although I prefer to come back to Malaysia as a Director of Coaching or
Technical Director at the State or national level, I don't mind coaching
teams in the M-League," said Hartley.
Hartley coached the Malaysian team for a year in 1989 and took them to
the Sea Games gold. Under him, Malaysia were second behind South Korea in
the pre-World Cup that year.
But his contract was not extended by the FA of Malaysia who said there
were not many assignments for the national team at that time.
Though there were the Beijing Asian Games in 1990 and the Manila Sea
Games in 1991, the FA of Malaysia obviously felt those were not close
"I am open to offers and discussions. It has been a long time since I
set foot in Malaysia. I have always kept an open mind about Malaysia.
"After my contract with the national team expired, Pahang showed
interest in me. But I found it a little hard to believe because it was the
same people from Pahang in the FA of Malaysia, who did not renew my
"I let that one go. But now, I am keen to get back to Malaysia."
Perhaps Hartley should have been retained by FAM.
Afterall, he was Singapore's Director of Coaching for four years in the
late 70s and is well versed with soccer in these parts of the world.
Hartley also worked with David Pleat at Tottenham Hotspur from May 1986
to October 1987.
Hartley now conducts coaching clinics in England and does specific work
with various clubs on a short term basis.
With several State FAs on the lookout for foreign coaches for next
season, Hartley might be back here again.