For the life of me, I cannot understand how the re-entry of foreign players will improve Malaysian football.
I still commend the FA of Malaysia (FAM) for taking a stance to do away with foreign players in the M-League - never mind the reason for the ban was because it was a financial burden on the teams.
It was indeed a blessing in disguise. It happened once before, and suddenly the national soccer team did well in the Asean Tiger's Cup and we actually had strikers in the team who were capable of scoring goals!
The argument that the Selangor team did not do well in the AFC Cup because it did not have foreign players, is lame.
The reason why Selangor did not do well is because they do not have a strong local league. Gone are the days when the Selangor League matches used to seen even more competitive matches than the Malaysia Cup matches.
There was an abundance of talent in Selangor, that to find a place in the Selangor team was a luxury. Even some national players used to warm the benches with the Selangor team then.
Today, every Ahmad, Ah Kow and Alagamuthu can don Selangor colours. To make make matters worse, Selangor cannot even assemble a decent team from their own Selangor-born players, but have to "import" players from other States.
Address the grassroots problem - a proper schools league, a junior league and strong State league - and everything will fall in place. It will take sometime to see results, but nothing happens overnight.
It is understood that Selangor and Kuala Lumpur leagues bar players above 30 years old to play in their league. Apparently, this will see more youngsters in the League.
But what they have failed to understand is that it is these 30somethings guys who form and run the team. With them ruled out, many teams have pulled out.
In anycase, what is wrong if the 30something play. It is no a whole team of 30something playing. It is a just a few of them, with the rest being young players. A decision taken without much thought has not ruled out more youngsters than 30somethings!
Shortcut attempts like bringing in foreign players is only temporary and cause long term damage.
Critics may argue that going foreign is being professional.
Yes, but is Malaysian football professional in the true sense of the word.
Teams do not have their own Stadium (Stadiums belong to the State Government), do not have proper or permanent training grounds, no clubhouse, no team bus, no proper administration system, proper financial standings, inadequate professional personnel and the list goes on.
Bringing in foreign players will only deny local players an opportunity to be exposed.
Most teams previously strengthen their teams either with a foreign striker, a central midfielder and a central defender and in some cases of goalkeeper.
These a vital clogs in a team and if every team hires three foreign players to strengthen their backbone of the team, how is this going to help our national team.
Some teams hire two strikers and then we complain that we do not have strikers for the national.
Where are they are going to come from? Thin air? Without any exposure how are the local players going to play at the international level?
Some may argue that playing alongside foreign players will see the locals improve.
From what we have seen, the local players have picked up more of the bad habits than the good. Besides a majority of the foreign players who have plied their trade in Malaysia are mediocre players.
Then there will be arguments that without foreign players, the excitement and flair is missing in the competition.
Are we now talking about entertainment value or development of Malaysian football?
Was there not a full Stadium in the FA Cup semifinals match between Negri Sembilan and Selangor last night at Paroi Stadium?
When there is quality performance from local players, the fans will automatically turn up.
Let us first work at getting some quality performance from out local players before looking for any short-cuts which will only prove to detrimental to Malaysian soccer.
There was a big hue and cry about the National Under-23 team which won the Sea Games gold. They were local players and there was excitement from the fans. And where did these players come from - the M-League right?
Efforts are being made by FA of Malaysia to see our young footballers being exposed to quality matches overseas and these are efforts which will eventually improve the quality of the M-League and the national team.
Leagues in Korea, Japan and China have foreign players because they are moving to the next level - having attained a high standard among their local players.
Their local players are ready and already playing in overseas Leagues.
Malaysia is are far from that and let us not fool ourselves to associate ourselves with other countries who have progressed and are way ahead of us.
In anything we do, there is no shortcut to success. It is no different in soccer. We have to learn to walk before we can run.
So the faster everyone starts working hard to build a strong base in their respective States, the faster Malaysian soccer has a chance to move forward!