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