Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Thank you, Bilic (The Malay Mail)

IN Terengganu's moment of joy in reaching the Malaysia Cup final, they
should not forget two people who played a role in where they are today -
Datuk Abu Bakar Daud, a former Terengganu FA deputy president, and
Yugoslav coach Marco Bilic.
Bakar Daud, who is now the Malaysian ambassador to Egypt, set the cogs
of soccer development in Malaysia moving when he hired Bilic to become
Terengganu's director of development in 1992.
Bakar Daud had the vision and gumption to hire Bilic when the coach was
fired by Malacca FA after only three months at his job.
Bilic, 61, whose five-year stay in Malaysia had been anything but
smooth, was to set Terengganu soccer on the upward curve.
Before his short stint with Malacca, Bilic had coached Johor and Perak.
He did reasonably well with Johor who qualified for the Malaysia Cup
semifinals in 1990 with Perak making the FA Cup final in 1991. But on both
occasions, he had to quit as his contract was not renewed.
Looking back, probably Bilic's two years in Terengganu were the best in
Malaysia where he was happy working at youth development. He was actively
involved in this aspect with Sarajevo, a Yugoslav Div 1 club before
becoming their coach.
It is the work of Bilic that has produced many of the talented players
for the Turtles. Among them who trained under him then as 12 years old
were Hairuddin Omar, Marzuki Yusof, Mohd Syamsuri Md Mustaffa, Subri
Sulong, Faziallah Mamat and Alfian Aziz.
Bilic visited the eight districts in Terengganu not only to scout for
young talent but also impart his coaching syllabus to other coaches. He
had said there was an abundance of talent in Terengganu and it rivalled
some of the European countries', if not better.
Bilic, a former goalkeeper, had also said that if the coaching programme
was carried out well, he saw no reason for Terengganu's dependence on
foreign players (at that time).
Indeed, the Terengganu players have matured to become household names as
they powered the Turtles to second placing in Premier One, and now they
are just a step away from Malaysia Cup glory.
And in doing so, Terengganu proved that development is the key to
success. The foresight of Bakar Daud in getting Bilic to do development
work led to them having an abundance of talent.
The present management, in signing a few quality players from other
States (strikers Wan Rohaimi Ismail, Sapian Abdul Wahid and Mohd Nafuzi
Mohd Zain) to further strengthen their team, enabled Terengganu to have a
good pool of players to choose from.
Coach Mat Zan Mat Aris said Terengganu's success had much to do with the
talented pool of players readily available.
"The presence of well-trained and quality players certainly made my work
easier. It is for this reason I pay tribute to the players because without
them, I will not have been able to taste success," said Mat Zan.
Mat Zan may not know Bilic but he certainly has the Yugoslav to thank
for coming into possession of a talent-laden Turtles side.

Friday, April 6, 2001

KL walk down memory lane

KUALA LUMPUR relived their glory days last night when the cast of their
greatest team in history held a reunion with Czech Dr Josef Venglos at a
hotel in the city.
Venglos, hailed for building up the great KL team that swept three
consecutive Malaysia Cup from 1986 to 1989, is in KL to conduct an Asian
Football Confederation coaching course.
Fandi Ahmad and Malek Awab, both who turned out for KL then, flew in
from Singapore for the nostalgic gathering.
The reunion of the legendary team, which was their first, was the result
of a joint effort by former KL coach Chow Kwai Lam, former KLFA president
Tan Sri Elyas Omar and a few other officials.
The players who were there to share heroics were Rashid Hassan, Mohamad
Noor Basri, M. Pavalamani, Razip Ismail, Tang Siew Seng, Chow Siew Yai,
Serbegeth Singh, Kamarulzaman Yusof, See Kim Seng, Nasaruddin Mat Din,
Ramlan Askolani, S. Balachandran, Subadron Aziz and Hashim Marman.
The others who could not be present were Mat Zan Mat Aris, Saidin Osman,
Lim Teong Kim and Nazim Din. The other member of what used to be the
greatest team in the land was the late Mohamad Zaid Jamil.
Among the officials present were Dato Seri Mohamad Noor Abdul Rahim
(former KLFA vice-president), Raja Datuk Seri Abdul Aziz Raja Salim
(former KLFA deputy president and team manager), Low Lee Cheng (former
KLFA vice-president), Goh Ah Chai (KLFA treasurer), coaches S.
Subramaniam, Kwai Lam, Hamzah Hussein, team doctor Gurcharan Singh and
physiotherapist K. Prabaharan.
Ashwin Singh - the son of Gurcharan - who as a toddler, was the team
mascot then, and now 15 years old, was also present.
"KL has become my second home. I have enjoyed working with KL especially
under the guidance of Tan Sri Elyas, who was responsible for the rise of
KL soccer," said Venglos, who after his stint KL, coached Czechoslovakia
to the World Cup.
"And meeting the players almost 15 years after is like being with the
team again. These players were a great bunch and seeing them today has
really made me very happy."
Venglos then went on to talk about the many trips that the KL team made
to Europe for exposure and the invaluable experience gained made them
among the best teams in Asia.
"Infact, from my stint with KL, I learnt to be a better coach. I had a
great group of people to work with, from Tan Sri Elyas to the coaches (S.
Subramaniam, Kwai Lam, Hamzah Hussein) and the team manager (Raja Datuk
Seri Abdul Aziz Raja Salim) and the players and everyone associated with
the team."
Elyas said: "Venglos certainly played a major role in the rise of KL
from whipping boys to championship material, not only for one season but
three," he said.
"This is indeed a great occasion and to see all the officials and
players together again reminds me of the many happy moments 15 years ago.
"Some players now look like officials while some officials look like
players. But today this certainly makes most of us feel 15 years younger,"
quipped Elyas.
Elyas added that it was good to see that many of the KL players have
made it in life after their playing days. Among the players last night
were politicians, successful businessmen, coaches and soccer pundits.
Serbegeth Singh, speaking on behalf of the players, said that it was the
close relationship among the players and officials that made them a
family, and leading to their success.
"We were very lucky in the sense that we all gathered together as a team
at the right place and right time and we had a great coach to mould us."
As the present KL team brace themselves for a hard time in Premier One
this season, it was yesterday once more for their team of the glorious

Friday, February 2, 2001

Wish for a glorious return

AS Kuala Lumpur celebrates its 27th birthday today, the wish of the Kuala
Lumpur Football Association (KLFA), who are a year younger, is to regain
past glory days.
KLFA, officially registered in 1975 as the Federal Territory Football
Association (FTFA) under a protem committee headed by Tan Sri Hamzah Abu
Samah, competed in their first official national competition in 1979 - the
Malaysia Cup.
Since then, the city side have come a long way, from whipping boys to
beating many associations who have a much longer history - dating as far
back to the 1920s.
Tan Sri Hamzah was their first president followed by Tan Sri Elyas Omar,
Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen was at the helm from 1977 to 1981.
FTFA, who changed their name to Kuala Lumpur in 1986, emerged as the
kings of Malaysian soccer when they captured the Malaysia Cup for three
consecutive years from 1987 to 1989.
As early as 1982, KL showed that they were on their way up when they
finished runners-up behind Penang in the League Cup that was introduced
that year.
KL were to later win every trophy at stake - triumphing in the Malaysia
Cup thrice, the League Cup (1986 and 1988), the FA Cup (1993, 1994 and
1999), the Charity Shield 1988, 1995 and 2000) and the Fairplay Trophy
The man who took the city to their greatest height was Elyas, the former
mayor of KL as he showed a keen interest in the association and
contributed greatly.
In the new millennium, under the leadership of Datuk Seri Megat Junid
Megat Ayob, KL are looking at becoming a major power in the game again.
However, KLFA need the support of the private sector to be well armed
financially to start their conquest of Malaysian soccer again.
"One of the reasons why we did well in the 80s was because KL were
financially sound with good support from both City Hall and the private
sector," said acting KLFA secretary Goh Ah Chai.
"We had a good development programme going for age-groups and it
eventually bore fruits with an abundance of talent coming through.
"So much so KL became a reservoir of talent as many of our players
played for other States.
"We also had the means to hire some of the top players not only in
Malaysia, but also from across the causeway.
"But in recent years and even more so during the economic slowdown, we
were hit badly. Funds were not easily available and we had to depend on
City Hall and the FAM subsidy.
"But we are still proud to say that despite the stringent budget, we
have managed to manage the team well. With a relatively young team, we put
up a strong challenge and even won the FA Cup thrice in the 90s.
"We are indeed indebted to our present mayor Tan Sri Kamaruzzaman
Shariff, who has been supportive to the association and helped us to stay
"But we are appealing to the private sector in the city to come forward
to support us too.
"We aim to get our development programmes going again in a big way with
youth tournaments and clinics throughout the city. But we need funds to
embark on the projects."
"We are also grateful to all the past officials and players who have
done their share to fly the KL flag high,' said Goh who together with K.
Rasalingam, the previous secretary, were founder members of FTFA.
And KLFA can also be proud that one of their affiliates, Kuala Lumpur
Malay Mail FC have also come of age. From being a club side in the KL
domestic league, the newspaper team are now in Premier II of the M-League.
Happy birthday KL, and may KL return to soccer glory.