Saturday, October 31, 1998

FAM to see to leagues in the States (The Malay Mail)

THE FA of Malaysia will soon be directly involved in the organising of
leagues at the State level.
FAM are disturbed by the quality and organisation of most of the State
leagues while in some States there are no such leagues.
FAM have decided to go to the grassroots to ensure at least some
FAM deputy president, Tengku Abdullah, who is also the technical and
development committee chairman, said plans are underway to ensure all
State FAs organise local leagues.
They are to be run simultaneously on specified days of the week.
"The State FAs are supposed to be organising local leagues to spot and
groom talent. They are also supposed to hold a competition for clubs,"
said Tengku Abdullah.
"But most states have not lived up to their obligations and now FAM will
ensure local competitions are organised and run smoothly and effectively."
Tengku Abdullah said a paper will be drawn up to ensure the league is
run uniformly in all the States.
Despite the substantial grants, State FAs have been neglecting soccer
development. Their only emphasis seems to be the M-League.
State FAs assemble age-group teams for a couple of weeks for a carnival
national tournament and then disband them.
FAM insist on longer training periods and proper tournaments.
Club soccer offers an opportunity for young players to stay involved
after leaving school and before making the grade at a higher level.
Club teams like Umno, Prisons, MCIS, PKNS, Hong Chin, Penang Port
Commission, Sultan Suliaman Club, KL City Hall, Sungei Tong, Perak SEDC,
Kelantan PKNK, Terengganu Municipality Town Council, UMBC used to produce
players of caliber for the States and the nation.
But that was long ago.
For the national body to do the work of the State FAs in developing
players is a crying shame.
Still, someone has to do it.

Friday, October 30, 1998

MM take time out before the big clash (The Malay Mail)

KUALA LUMPUR MALAY MAIL face Malacca Telekom in the return leg of the FAM
Cup semifinals on Sunday but they were not working themselves to death in
training yesterday.
Instead, the team had a splashing time at the Desa WaterPark, having an
evening of fun and relaxation.
MM accepted an invitation from the recreational park to take their mind
off the impending clash.
Telekom edged MM 1-0 in the first leg at TLDM Stadium in Lumut last
Sunday. The second leg is at KLFA Stadium.
(In the other semifinal, Kelantan TNB edged Kelantan JKR 3-2 in the
first leg in Kota Baru).
MM coach R. Subramaniam said although they are trailing by a goal, he
believes MM have what it takes to overcome Telekoms and make the final.
"It will not be easy but I am encouraged by the determination of the
players. They want to make amends for the first leg defeat," said
MM beat the Selangor M-League team 1-0 on Wednesday at the MPPJ Stadium
in a friendly match and are raring to take on Telekom.
"The players are relaxed now after the outing and we will get back to
serious work," said Subramaniam.
The players had a grand time on the rides, including Surf Sack, Splash
Out, Clown-a-Round, Pink Slide, Shock Wave, Bubble Pool, a 200 feet wide
Action River and the longest uphill water coaster in the region.

Wednesday, October 28, 1998

Make up your mind! (The Malay Mail)

FOREIGN players could still feature in next year's M-League despite a FAM
decision earlier to do away with them.
FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah said yesterday the final decision
rests with the State FAs themselves.
"It was the State FAs who had called for the foreign players to be
barred because of the economic problems.
"A majority of them had agreed to do away with the foreign players when
we met the last time.
"But some of them have had a change of heart and are clamouring for the
continued services of the foreigners."
Tengku Abdullah said he personally has nothing against the presence of
foreign players in the M-League.
"It is just that they are expensive and with our economic problems, we
have have to rethink.
"The US dollar is not cheap and with most of the States facing financial
problems, we have to evaluate the situation."
Asked whether the option to hire foreigners could be left to the State
FAs instead of enforcing a blanket ban, Tengku Abdullah said it was best
discussed by the State FA representatitives at council level.
"The final decision lies with the council and we will wait and see when
we meet on Nov 8."
Whether the foreigners will still be around next year is anybody's guess
as the States have proven to be fickle and indecisive over the issue.
While the consensus at last month's council meeting was the exclusion of
foreign pros, most of them are having second thoughts now.
Some claim the views of their representatives at the council did not
reflect that of their State FAs.
"Why can't they just leave it open. Let the State FAs who can afford it,
hire the foreigners," said one State FA official.
Another official said: "We still need at least one foreigner in the team
and it will not cost much."

Sunday, October 18, 1998

Kelantan sure bet (The Malay Mail)

KELANTAN will definitely be represented in the FAM Cup final next month.
Kelantan's JKR and TNB have qualified for the FAM Cup semifinals and
will meet each other for a place in the final.
The battle on the terraces will be equally interesting as that on the
field as the supporters will be split in support of the two competing
teams, both Kelantan based.
There will be no home ground advantage to speak of as both have been
playing their home matches at the Sultan Mohamed IV Stadium in Kota Baru.
Kelantan JKR finished top in Group B while TNB were runners-up in Group
JKR, going by their performance against Kuala Lumpur Malay Mail, had
wanted to meet TNB rather than defending champions Malacca Telekom.
Despite having qualified for the semifinal, they played their guts out
to earn a draw and thus top the group.
That result left Malay Mail who ended the group runners-up, the
daunting task of taking on the defending champions in the semifinal.
Malay Mail took an early lead and were going all out for a win but JKR
came back strongly for the equaliser and defended stoutly to keep the
score level, so as to top the Group.
TNB, on the other hand, had to dig deep into their reserves to hold
Terengganu Perkasa Alam to a 2-2 draw to pip them to the semifinals.
Debutants Perkasa have indeed been going great guns and it is a pity
they were edged out.
Perkasa needed to win, while TNB only needed a draw to book a semifinal
Now with both JKR and TNB having to face each other in the semifinals,
the only consolation the home fans will have is that they are assured of a
Kelantan team in the final.
JKR are coached by Awang Esa while TNB are coached by Kelantan's former
international Salim Mahmud.
In the other semifinal, Telekom start as favourites as they attempt to
reach their fourth FAM Cup final.
Telekom won the FAM Cup in 1994 and 1995 before they were denied a
hattrick by Johor FC in 1996. Last year, they failed to make the
semifinals and it was Armed Forces who won the championship beating Negri
Sembilan Chempaka.
Telekom have a lethal striker in Ghana's youth international Issac
Kuffour who has been plundering at will. He has scored 21 goals in 14
They also have an able defender in Uzbekistan defender Oleg Burov and
several calibre local players in P. Vinod, S. Manivanan, Manzoor Azwira
Abdul Wahid, Olaga Shankar, V. Sellathurai, Anuar Hassan to name a few.
Telekom, however will not be having homeground advantage as the Kubu
Stadium is not available.
They will now play their home match at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh as
Paroi Stadium is not available either.
Malay Mail, on the other hand have nothing to lose.
Having reached the semifinals in only their second season is indeed
They have a foreigner in defender Taso Notaras from Perth, Australia.
They also have several experienced players in goalkeeper M. Pavalamani,
defenders K. Viajantheran, N. Suresh, S. Mathen, midfielders S.
Balachandran, S. Saravanan and striker K. Hemadass.
They also have former KL youth players Mohd Imran Ahmad and N.
Ellangovan, while others like skipper Hasnul Ramlan Khairuddin, Azizul
Jamaluddin, Roshidi Ramli and Robert Maniam are all mainstayes of the
The odds may be stacked against Malay Mail, but their determined effort
might just see a surprise finalist.
The first leg will be played on Oct 25 and the return leg on Nov 1.

Sabah G'kod 1 M'cca Telekom 6
T'ggnu P. Alam 2 Kelantan TNB 2

Kelantan JKR 1 KL Malay Mail 1
Negri BSN 0 Kedah PKNK 1

Friday, October 16, 1998

Council killing the game (The Malay Mail)

MALAYSIAN soccer is being kicked to death by people who are unfit to sit
on the FAM Council.
As FAM welcome the Sports Ministry's offer of help in resuscitating the
national team who have slipped from critical condition into a coma,
corrective surgery needs to be performed on the "diseased" council mostly
made up of State FAs representatives.
To start with, it's the State FAs, through their collective decisions in
the FAM Council who chart the course of Malaysian soccer.
Obviously, they must have been making bad decisions all this while as
the national team have been suffering flop after flop and declining
As the parent body get flayed and ridiculed, it is the State FAs
closeted in FAM that should take a long hard look at themselves.
Just ask: "What have they contributed to Malaysian soccer?
The destiny of the game here has been entrusted to these State FA
representatives who more often than not, are not suitable choices for the
FAM Council.
Either these people are just figure heads in the State FAs or "big
shots" who are hardly involved in soccer managememt in their respective
States or are just FAM puppets.
Decisions are made with these council members often not knowing the
issues or subjects and they hardly have a clue of the consequences.
And then there are other council members who cannot make decisions but
get back to their State FAs for consultation.
Then there are those who make an effort to come up with ideas and
suggestions at council level but do not get the support of their State
Ironically, the knowledgeable people, well versed in the technical
aspects of soccer development, are not the ones sitting on the FAM
The point here is no matter how brilliant the planning and how much
money FAM or the Sports Ministry come up with, it all depends how well
programmes are, or can be, implemented.
And when it comes to execution of plans, it all falls back on the States
who are not doing much to support soccer development as they are merely
interested in immediate results in the M-League.
It is about time FAM decided who are fit to sit on the council by
vetting the State FA representatives.
They must get rid of the deadwood by insisting the State FAs only
nominate those well versed in the game. This would discount most of the
politicians for a start.
The Sports Ministry should be well aware of what is going behind the FAM
doors as National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Mazlan Ahmad
is a FAM Council member.
It is learnt that Mazlan's visit to Wisma FAM on Wednesday was to convey
Sports Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's message that it was not his
intention to intervene, but that he was forced to make a statement when
cornered by the media.
Muhyiddin was merely concerned about's FAM future plans especially for
the 2001 Sea Games which Malaysia are hosting.
But unless the Sports Ministry can do something about the State FAs'
setup and attitude, Malaysian soccer will remain in a coma.

Friday, October 2, 1998

No work, no success! (The Malay Mail)

MALAYSIAN soccer seems to have no shortage of scapegoats for the slipping
national standards.
Everyone expects miracles to happen overnight without wanting to do the
hard work.
Our demanding soccer public and administrators of the sport - at
national and state levels - just do not have the patience.
Even before the Olympic 2000 team kick a ball in the qualifying round
for Sydney, they have already been written off.
You can say the Olympic squad used up millions of ringgit in training
and overseas exposure the past three years and competed in the World Youth
Cup tournament in Malaysia last year.
That they have been groomed by an array of specialised coaches headed by
Tunisian Hatem Souissi.
But before anyone gets impressed by all these facts and figures, look
Instead of just three years of training, the Olympic players should have
at least 10 years of experience at top level football under their belt.
When selected three years ago, these players hardly had a strong
foundation - no thanks to the State FAs who paid no attention to
development work.
When you consider Hatem having to call for selection trials, you know
must be drastically wrong with Malaysian football. (Out of the 3,000
players who came, he picked 35).
The State FAs should have supplied him with a ready list of top youth
players if they have been doing their job. Wasn't there neglect in
development work?
Englishman Mike Brown, who coached the Pahang in 1992, once asked: "Can
you name 10 players who are 12 years old and can make the World Youth Cup
No name came to mind.
And Malaysia then were about to make a bid to host the World Youth Cup!
Brown's point?
The World Youth Cup players should have been there even before the bid.
Soccer for 12 years olds? Just treat them to a carnival competition two
weeks a year.
None of the State FAs introduced any new talent other than those
shortlisted for the Olympics squad and later dropped.
A total of 12 players in Premier One and 16 in Premier Two, registered
at the start of the season, were born on or before 1977.
Out of 392 players registered in the first two seasons of the Premier
League, only 28 were below 21 years.
Of these, six players from Premier One and seven from Premier Two were
with the Olympics squad as early as 1995. Another five had attended trials
or trained with the Olympics squad.
Have these players not been spotted for the Olympic squad, they probably
would never been utilised by the State FAs.
Several States like Kedah and Kuala Lumpur did have commendable youth
development programmes but they too have slowed down.
The FA of Malaysia have to virtually force the State FAs to carry out
development programmes by introducing national leagues for Under-16 and
Under-18 players apart from the President's Cup.
Then there is the touch-football programmes initiated by German Olger
Obermann for kids to get started.
In five years' time, we should get quality players for our national
Our present Olympic players cannot be compared with the likes of
England's Michael Owens, France's David Trezeguet and Thiery Henry,
Brazil's Adailton Martins and Alex.
These shooting stars all started playing as 10 years olds and have come
through well supervised development programmes.
Three years of training and several million ringgit are certainly not
the answer to soccer supremacy.

Remember me? (The Malay Mail)

DEFENDER K. Ramachandran, Kuala Lumpur's longest serving player, is left
wondering if he should have moved along when the offers came along.
And he has had ample time to regret as the season has been almost all
idle hours spent away from the pitch.
Ramachandran, who turns 26 on Oct 17, is in his sixth season with KL and
is just about left pleading for a fair chance to fight for a place in the
His nightmare started at the beginning of the season when he was
stripped of the skipper's band after two seasons.
He was accused of leading a boycott of former KL coach Chow Kwai Lam's
training to take up the team's grouses with KLFA president Datuk Seri
Megat Junid Megat Ayub.
This was just after KL's 5-1 hammering by Kedah in the season's opening
match in Alor Star.
Then injury put him out for a big part of the League with Mat Zan Mat
Aris taking over as coach and KL going 11 matches unbeaten.
Youngster M. Karunakaran, who stepped into Ramachandran's position, has
done well to keep his place.
And with Azlan Hussein back from the Olympic 2000 squad, there is
further competition in the backline.
Karunakaran and Abdul Ghani Malik are Mat Zan's first choice stoppers
with P. Saravanan playing sweeper.
"I am not worried of the competition in the team. I like it better when
the competition is keener as everyone has to work for his place," said
Ramachandran, a product of the KLFA youth development programmes.
"But, somehow, I get the feeling I am not wanted and that hurts because
I have always been loyal to KL," said the Taiping-born Ramachandran.
Ramachandran stuck with KL even when they failed to qualify for the
Malaysia Cup competition for four consecutive years.
And it was during this period that he had offers from Selangor, Negri
Sembilan and Perak.
He turned them all down, even some lucrative ones during those years of
conspicuous consumption, as he felt indebted to KLFA.
With his experience and maturity, Ramachandran should be a mainstay of
the team but he is not even among the KL reserves for tomorrow night's
opening Malaysia Cup match against Terengganu.
But Ramachandran is not giving up without a fight.
"As long as I am in the squad, there is hope. I am going to train even
harder to get my chance to play - even if for a few minutes.
"I still have a great deal to offer to the team," said Ramachandran who
has two FA Cup medals with KL from 1993 and 1994.
"But if my best effort is not good enough for the team, I would have to
move along.
"Maybe I will get the chance to prove myself all over again, maybe I
will not. But it would not be because of a lack of effort on my part,"
said Ramachandran.
Mat Zan is using younger players in his line-up.
The older players like Liew Kim Tu, Tan Cheng Hoe, Nazim Din, Amiruddin
Ahmad and Zefus Othman have all been reduced to reserves.
The competition is keen with the youngsters wanting to establish
themselves and the seniors wanting to reassert themselves.
Mat Zan is certainly in a good position as all the competition for team
places brings out the best in the players.