Thursday, February 25, 1999

Malay Mail's dreams dashed (The Malay Mail)

KUALA LUMPUR MALAY MAIL coach Lucas Kallang's worst fears came true
Just a point away from making Premier Two this season, their dreams were
dashed at the BSN Sports Complex.
After a goalless first half, Malay Mail failed to cope with the pressure
from Armed Forces in the second and conceded goals to Ahmad Nizan Ariffin
and Amir Abdul Ghani Mohamad Yusof in the 74th and 85th minutes
With the 2-0 victory, Armed Forces qualified for Premier Two by
finishing second in the standings with four points.
Though they were tied on points with Malay Mail, Armed Forces had a
better goal difference.
Kelantan TNB qualified for Premier Two by finishing top of the standings
with five points.
They held Police 1-1 at Petronas Sports Complex yesterday.
Lucas, a former Sarawak assistant coach, said: "We are very
disappointed. There was so much at stake for us in this match.
"In the second half we were at a big disadvantage when Hasnul (Ramlan)
was injured after colliding with an Armed Forces player."

Wednesday, February 24, 1999

Malay Mail hoping for vintage show from Pavalamani (The Malay Mail)

KUALA LUMPUR MALAY MAIL, just one point away from making their Premier Two
debut, cannot take anything for granted against Armed Forces in their last
qualifying match at the BSN Sports Complex this evening (4.30pm).
Coached by Lucas Kallang, a former Sarawak assistant coach, KL Malay
Mail are second in the standings with four points after two matches.
Kelantan TNB, who top the standings on better goal difference, also need
a draw against Police this evening to confirm their place in Premier Two.
KL Malay Mail will again be hoping for a good performance from veteran
goalkeeper M. Pavalamani, who has been in great form.
He played a major role in the goalless draw with Kelantan TNB in their
opening match.
Pavalamani was on song again when KL Malay Mail edged Police 1-0 on
The former Sabah and KL goalkeeper made some superb saves to keep the
Police strikers at bay.
But Pavalamani, 35, cannot be expected to do the job alone today.
The backline, led by Hasnul Ramlan, must cope with the pressure from the
Armed Forces strikers.
"This is a great chance for me to see action in the M-League again,"
said Pavalamani.
"We have all worked very hard and I am glad everything is going smoothly
for the team. Hopefully, we will maintain our performance in the last
But Lucas said his players must communicate better on the field.
"Our main problem is that our players have yet to find their rhythm. The
teamwork is not quite there yet.
"We must be better organised and the players must know each other's game
well if we are to make a bigger impact.
"But we must first do well against Armed Forces. We will not be playing
for a draw as that could be disastrous. We have to play to win," said

Tuesday, February 23, 1999

Sham takes Malay Mail closer to Premier Two (NST)

KL MALAY MAIL ... 1  POLICE .......... 0
KL Malay Mail are just one step away from playing in Premier Two.
Their 1-0 win over unlucky Police in a qualification playoff match at
the Petronas ground in Bangi yesterday has virtually assured them of
They only need to draw their next match against a struggling Armed
Forces to see their dream fulfilled. Armed Forces were beaten 3-2 by
Kelantan TNB in another yesterday.
However, KL Malay Mail coach Lucas Kallang Leng wants his players to go
for a win against Armed Forces tomorrow.
"Although we only need a draw to get a place in Premier Two, that does
not mean we can relax. There is still a lot of work to do and we must go
for a win," he said.
The match, which was played in the late afternoon, saw an unsettled
Malay Mail struggle to get past the extremely fit Police defence.
If not for the good form of Malay Mail keeper M. Pavalamani, Police
could have taken an early lead through striker Rohaizan Mohamed Ribi whose
fierce drives brought out the best from Pavalamani.
Malay Mail got into their stride midway through the first half and
continuously pounded the Police goal finally breaking the deadlock in the
42nd minute.
Mohamad Sham Mohamed scored from close range.
The win ensured that Malay Mail finish in the top two of this season's
Premier Two qualifying.
Kelantan TNB, who beat Armed Forces at the BSN ground, are the other
team who have a good chance of making in into Premier Two.
TNB's goals were scored by Ahmad Faisal (15th minute), Zul Hassan (44th)
and Ruslan Ismail (68th) while Armed Forces scored through Mohamad Nizam
(36th) and Hassan Sazali (89th).
Tomorrow, TNB play Police at the Petronas ground while Malay Mail play
Armed Forces at the BSN ground (4.30pm).

MM move a step closer (The Malay Mail)

KUALA LUMPUR Malay Mail are just a step away from qualifying for Premier
Two, which kicks off next month.
The newspaper team only need a draw in their last qualifying match
against Armed Forces tomorrow to confirm their berth.
After drawing 1-1 with Kelantan TNB in their opening match on Saturday,
KL MM overcame Police 1-0 at Petronas Sports Complex yesterday.
With the win, KL MM are tied with Kelantan TNB on four points. TNB also
registered a victory yesterday when they edged Armed Forces 3-2 at BSN
Sports Complex.
TNB top the standings with a better goal difference. Police and Armed
Forces are third and fourth respectively - with one point each.
Only the top two teams qualify for Premier Two.
Though reserve player Mohamed Sham Mohamad, who replaced Mohamed Sabri,
steered KL MM to victory five minutes before the end, goalkeeper M.
Pavalamani, who is a former international, had his hands full repelling
the Police bombardments.
Despite the pressure from the Police strikeforce, led by former KL Razak
Cup player Affendy Hamzah, Pavalamani used his experience to advantage by
making a few great saves.
KL MM coach Lucas Kallang, a former Sarawak assistant coach, gave the
thumbs up to Pavalamani.
"He was superb. With his vast experience, Pavalamani made no mistake in
his judgments.
"Pavalamani was tested a number of times but he coped with the pressure.
"We hope Pavalamani can maintain his good performance in our last match
on Wednesday."
But Lucas, handling KL MM for the first time, has reminded the players
not to get carried away with the victory.
"Nothing is confirmed yet till we play the last match. All the four
teams still have a chance of making Premier Two.
"Though we just need a draw against Forces, we are gunning for a victory
and I may change the first XI tomorrow," said Lucas.
Police coach K. Thaiyanathan said it's still not over yet for his team.
"I admit KL Malay Mail and Kelantan TNB hold the edge over us in making
Premier Two.
"We should have at least collected a point today but our strikers blew a
few good chances.
"In tomorrow's match against Kelantan TNB, we must make sure that we
convert the chances created."

Monday, February 22, 1999

Crucial ties for all four (The Malay Mail)

ALL four teams fighting for berths in Premier Two have an even chance
after their opening matches on Saturday in Bangi.
The four - Armed Forces, Police, Kuala Lumpur Malay Mail and Kelantan
TNB - will go all out today as victory will enhance their chances of
On Saturday, Malay Mail and TNB played to a 1-1 draw at the Bank
Simpanan Nasional Sports Complex, while Armed Forces and Police were
scoreless at the Petronas Sports Complex.
Malay Mail had to come back from a goal down to earn the draw to stay in
the hunt after Kelantan had taken the lead in the 16th minute through
Morhim Abdullah.
The newspaper team found the equaliser after substitute striker Mohamad
Sabri Mohamad Salleh was brought down by TNB's Ruslan Ismail in the
penalty box in the 83th minute.
Former KL midfielder S. Mathen made no mistake from the spot.
Today, Malay Mail will play Police at the Petronas Stadium, while TNB
will take on Armed Forces at the BSN Stadium. Both matches start at
The final day of the playoffs is on Wednesday.
Today: Armed Forces v Kelantan TNB (BSN Sports Complex); Police v KL
Malay Mail (Petronas Sports Complex).
Wednesday: KL Malay Mail v Armed Forces (BSN Sports Complex); Kelantan
TNB v Police (Petronas Sports Complex) - both matches at 4.30pm.

Mathen rescues Malay Mail (The Sunday Times)

KL Malay Mail ... 1
Kelantan TNB .... 1

Police .......... 0
Armed Forces .... 0
KUALA Lumpur Malay Mail, hoping to find a place in Premier Two this
season, had S. Mathen to thank for helping gain a point in their opening
qualifying match against Kelantan TNB at the Bank Simpanan Nasional ground
in Bangi yesterday.
With the clock fast ticking and Malay Mail trailing by an early TNB
goal, Mathen came to the rescue when he scored a penalty in the 83rd
minute. Morhim Abdullah had given TNB the lead in the 16th minute.
The first half belonged to TNB and the took the lead when Morhim headed
the ball home from close range off a cross by Ruslan Ismail.
TNB could have gone 2-0 up shortly after by ex-international and
Kelantan player Salim Mahmood failed to score from close range.
TNB had difficulty sustaining their dominance and Malay Mail slowly
pulled themselves back into the match.
They had several chances but the TNB defence refused to break until the
83rd minute when Mathen was brought down by Ruslan. Mathen easily
In another match, Police and Armed Forces struggled to a scoreless draw
at the neighbouring Petronas ground.
Police keeper P.T. Asogan was their hero yesterday as he kept ARmed
Forces at bay with his good anticipation and execellent saves.
Police taken on Malay Mail at the Petronas ground tomorrow while Forces
go up against TNB at the BSN ground. Both matches kick-off at 4.30pm.

Wednesday, February 10, 1999

Bonus boost (The Malay Mail)

WHEN virtually every one is cutting costs these difficult days, FAM have
decided to spend more on the M-League.
State FAs should thank their lucky stars that they would be getting an
increase in annual subsidy from FAM.
This "bonus" was conveyed by FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah to FAM
council members at their meeting on Monday.
Sultan Ahmad confirmed the increase but declined to reveal the details
at the moment.
"It is suffice for me to say at this stage there will be an increase in
the RM750,000 allocated to each State. We are still finalising the amount.
"We did away with foreign players this season to help teams cut costs
besides wanting to see more local players getting exposure.
"I am still going ahead to increase the subsidy because I strongly feel
that the State teams should be developed to a high level to produce
quality players," said Sultan Ahmad Shah.
The absence of foreign players will generally help State FAs reduce
their M-League expenditure by about 40 per cent.
Fifty-one foreigners featured in the M-League last season, the second
highest number since Semi-Pro was introduced in 1989 and went fully
professional seven years later. The most number of foreign players was 55
in 1997.
But the Sultan of Pahang made it clear that the additional subsidy was
not for the State FAs to spend lavishly but to make an earnest effort in
producing quality players.
State FAs can help Sultan Ahmad realise his wishes by hiring quality
coaches to handle their teams.
It could be top local coaches on a full-time basis where they can give
undivided attention to players. Or they can get good foreign coaches.
However, the only problem is that all the teams have already named their
coaches for the season.
But it is still not too late to employ foreign coaches as technical
directors to the teams with the view of making them coaches next season.
This is not to say local coaches lack quality but it is just a lack of
Besides, foreign coaches have been exposed to a very high level of the
game especially in the many leagues in Europe.
No harm getting foreign coaches to share expertise with local ones
though there was a substantial increase in local coaches last season with
12 involved in the M-League. Notably, Moey Yoke Ham coached Penang to the
league title while Abdul Rahman Ibrahim guided Terengganu to the Malaysia
Cup final.
This way, not only do the players benefit from top level coaching, the
local coaches can also act as understudy to their foreign counterparts.
This season, the teams with foreign coaches are Pahang (Alan Davidson),
Selangor (Mike Pejic), Johor (Steve Darby) Johor FC (Ronald Smith), Sabah
(Ken Shellito) and Perak (Karl Weigang).
The local coaches are with Perlis (Tajuddin Nor), Kedah (Azman Yusoff
and P. Balakrishnan), Penang (Yoke Ham), Terengganu (Yunus Alif), Kelantan
(Mosthakeen Omar), Malacca (G. Torairaju), Negri Sembilan (Irfan Bakti),
Sarawak (Abdul Jalil Rambli), Kuala Lumpur (Mat Zan Mat Aris), Negri
Sembilan Chempaka (K. N. Devan) and Malacca Telekom (Khadir Buyong).
Sultan Ahmad has indeed been generous to the State FAs and they should
repay his generosity by producing some significant results in the progress
of Malaysian soccer.

Tuesday, February 9, 1999

Not the right time (The Malay Mail)

THE Sultan of Pahang wants to put Malaysian soccer on the right footing
for the next millennium before stepping down as FAM president.
Speculation was rife that Sultan Ahmad Shah would quit his FAM post
sometime this month to concentrate on his duties as Asian Football
Confederation (AFC) president.
But Sultan Ahmad dismissed such talk after chairing yesterday's FAM
council meeting.
Sultan Ahmad, replying in jest to queries from the Press about his
intentions to quit, quipped: "Where have you heard this?
"I will step down when the time is right ... unless my deputy (looking
at Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen) wants to take over."
That saw Ritahuddeen animatedly dismissing the suggestion.
It was earlier speculated that Sultan Ahmad's son, Tengku Abdullah, the
Tengku Mahkota of Pahang, would be the likely successor.
Incidentally, it was Tengku Abdullah who had said in Vietnam that his
father could make an announcement pertaining to his position in FAM at
yesterday's meeting.
Tengku Abdullah, however, was not present at the meeting, having been
admitted to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital yesterday morning after
feeling unwell.
Sultan Ahmad said: "I will step down. I am definitely not indispensable.
Besides, I am not getting any younger.
"But I will do it at the right time. At this point I am still the
"I want to leave the association honourably. There are a few things I
would like to see happen to Malaysian soccer and I believe we will get off
on the right note for the next millennium."
Sultan Ahmad said from the information of coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim,
there is hope for the national team although they did not have a good
outing in the Dunhill Cup in Vietnam where they lost to South Korea (3-0)
and China (7-1).
He added that the present national players do not lack passion or desire
to do well.
"At least this is the feedback I got from the coach. What the players
lack are international Grade A matches. We have taken note of the matter
and are acting on it."
The national team will play at least one international Grade A match
every month with immediate effect. They will also see action in an
international quadrangular in Malaysia before August's Brunei SEA Games.
Asked why he does not intend to head FAM in the next millennium, Sultan
Ahmad said: "I have been around for 14 years and it is time for someone
else to lead FAM.
"But, like I said, I am confident the game in this country will reach a
new level soon and that will certainly make me happy.
"For now, let us all, including the Press, work as one to ensure that
the game moves up.
"I also feel that without the foreigners this year, more local talent
will surface. We have done everything possible to ensure that the M-League
will not be affected by the absence of the foreigners. I believe it will
be an exciting season."

Monday, February 8, 1999

Lost souls! (The Malay Mail)

THEY are the "lost boys" with no future and no hope of reversing
Malaysia's soccer fortunes.
Nothing can be done to save the national team with the present
generation of Malaysian footballers. Players who have lost their character
in their lust for easy money.
The FA of Malaysia have to accept this as their bad karma for we really
reap what we sow.
The future lies in the next millennium, in the kids now aged about 10
years old who are kicking balls around the kampungs, streets and patches
of green.
Sure, waiting for these kids to mature will take time but we must
exercise patience and do the right thing instead of wasting money and
effort on the hopeless lot now plying their trade in the M-League.
We must infuse the children with professional ethics like they do in
Europe. Make it an integral part of their soccer education to inculcate
character and a sense of national pride and professionalism.
For far too long, the fans have been led up the garden path as FAM keep
trying, and failing, with their programmes to come up with a winning team.
One can argue that the present national players are still young and just
starting out. But their path is full of potholes of their own making. They
lack a sense of purpose just like their predecessors of the past two
And we cannot really blame the system. FAM have done everything
possible, from pumping money into State FAs and virtually taking over
their development programmes, to nurturing national youth teams.
But yet the senior national teams keep on embarrassing the country. The
fans cannot comprehend why Malaysia are even no match for less developed
countries like Vietnam and Laos.
The problem is the Malaysian players lack professionalism and ambition.
They expect easy money without having to produce results and the M-League
offers them that.
They do not behave like professionals when donning national colours and
expect FAM to heap lavish incentives on them.
The last Malaysian player of some charisma was Zainal Abidin Hassan.
Whatever one may say about him, he was a commanding figure who could play
a grand game if he chose too. His longevity is proof of that.
But it is a sad indictment of the game that the last quality player was
a throwback from 20 years ago. From the generation which produced the last
great Malaysian team with the likes of Soh Chin Aun, Mokhtar Dahari, R.
Arumugam and company.
It has been downhill all the way since then.
These days, players only need to be at their mediocre best to be treated
like lords by the States. So why bother trying to be the best?
Look at Khairul Anaur Baharom, Faizal Zainal and A. Ganesan. They are not
even exceptional in their State teams, let alone shine at international
The fact that they could not even make their mark against Under-23 teams
in the Dunhill Cup in Ho Chi Minh City underlines their lack of calibre.
The players from Olympic 2000 should be better because under Hatem
Souissi they have had the ideals of professionalism instilled in them
during the past four years.
Even so, these boys have rebelled against Hatem saying he is too strict
and tried to oust him. That speaks volumes about their professionalism.
Like their seniors, they want everything but are not prepared to work
for it.
Sad to say, the Olympic 2000 squad cannot be really seen as Malaysia's
hope because they too lack motivation and drive.
Not many of our players dream of playing abroad. They are content with
the easy life the M-League offers them. Either they feel they are not good
enough or just do not have the desire to improve further.
It is this indifferent attitude that is killing the game.
We need ambitious players like Lim Teong Kim and Fandi Ahmad before
Malaysia can dream of being the best in the region, let alone Asia.
So let us stop dreaming of quick success for we simply do not have the
players for it.
Five or more years is more like it. And that is not too long a wait if
Malaysian soccer walks tall again like it did in the 60s and 70s.
But for that to happen, we must teach the youngsters all about pride and