Saturday, March 30, 2013

FAM should haul up the real trouble makers!

Kudos to the FA of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad for having come out in the open to reveal that there is a possible conspiracy to remove the national coach, Datuk K. Rajagobal.

And the same goes to The Star for their two days in a row to carry front page the story on Rajagobal, when the General Election is the talk of the nation. It was a freshening change and also underlined that sports in the country holds priority too.

This is what The Star wrote:

So the question now is who rules the FA of Malaysia?
All the talk about to remove the Sultan of Pahang as the President of FA of Malaysia to check the ills of Malaysian soccer is utter rubbish. It is people who do not understand the workings of the FA of Malaysia and do not see things happenings as it is, who make stands like these.

For starters, FA of Malaysia needs a leader who commands the respect from all quarters, who is influential to bring in the funds to the national association and the passion for the game.

The president is just one man in the Council and decisions are not taken by him alone. What are the rest of the Exco members and State affiliates doing. If they are yes man then,who is to be blamed. It is these yes man who should be removed. And these are the same people who run the State football. What have they done for their State football. If the grassroots is weak, so will be the foundation of FA of Malaysia.

Just to sidetrack, stories I have heard of how foreign players have been hired for this season (no different from previous years) is horrific. No surprise that many of these foreign players have failed to perform and many have had their contracted terminated. Stories of players hired by just watching video clippings, players hired because agents have packages for coaches and officials or known to the coaches and the market being flooded with second-rated and even third-rated foreign players is all so familiar.

Coming back to critics asking for change of guards at FA of Malaysia, from my days as a sport journalist and having had many meetings with the Sultan of Pahang and also the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang, both have given time and opportunities to air my views and even explain myself when at times I have taken FA of Malaysia to task for several issues. Each time both listen attentively and respect the views and have at times changed their stance. It was the same for many other sports journalists, who have on many occasion been critical of FA of Malaysia's decisions or issues they have handled. It only goes to say that they listen and do not make decisions on their own.

Thus it is up to the officials in FA of Malaysia to put forward their views in the best interest of the game and not based on their personal agendas.

If these so-called critics want changes in Malaysian soccer, start campaigning for the right people to be placed at the State FAs and remove all those who have agendas and benefit themselves alone.

What Azzuddin has said in the newspapers today is nothing new. It is just that no one wanted to bring it up to the surface because most of them were part and parcel of group who were actually the people who were taking Malaysian soccer further down the dirt road and had their agendas in place.

Hopefully, the current situation will be addressed and Malaysian soccer is put back on the right road to further improvement.

But if the hidden powers are more powerful and have their way and the agenda to get rid of Rajagobal succeeds, then I can already see what will happen next.

They will clamour for either Ong Kim Swee to take charge of both teams, or bring in a foreign coach. What better time to get rid of Rajagobal then now, with the next Asian qualifier match four months time.

If a foreign coach is actually hired (I am sure they already have a few names in mind and do not surprised if you hear some familiar names), he is going to bring back a few seasoned players to the squad for short term success and throw all the long term planning down the drain.

Yes, coaches get hired and sacked and that is the name of the game. But based on Rajagobal's performance chart since he took charge of Under-23 in 2009 in collaboration  with the Ministry of Sport/National Sports Council on a long term programme culminating with the national team qualifying for the Asian Cup next year, has he not brought improvement so far. I remember not too long ago, everyone was singing praises about him. Even now he commands respect from the public and is treated like a national hero! He has a contract until the end of the year, why not allow him to complete his contract.

What good will changes at the tail end of his contract bring to the national team other than further disrupt the progression chart.

Above all, critics must understand and come to terms that Malaysian soccer is still far away from being top ranked even in Asean region, let alone Asia. And to attain the top status will not come overnight and with constant changes. If the critics continue to live in their own world of dreamland, it is not going to help one bit. And if the learned soccer officials who are suppose to play a key role in charting the improvement of Malaysian soccer, have their own agendas, then Malaysian soccer is doing to be drawn into further doldrums.

We have to have one vision, a concerted and united effort of all, patience, dedication, discipline and above all the passion for the game and not material gains and self interest to get anyway close to the path of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Please make up your minds!

I had stopped blogging regularly because Malaysian sports keeps repeating its mistakes and articles I have written some years ago are still very relevant.
To make matters worse, the sports journalism over the years ( due respect to some of senior reporters and those who claim to be specialist in their area) has certainly taken a downward trend. There are more reporters who are fans rather than reporters or journalists who write it as they see it without any agendas or favours for anyone.
It is amazing to see reports in newspapers the next day which is similar in several newspapers - like they have had a meeting and decided what to write.  I am not talking about Press Conferences, where the story is expected to be similar.
Anyway, coming back for my reason for blogging tonight is the ever familiar topic of foreign players which I had written about extensively.
I was among the few who was dead against foreign players making a re-entry to the M-League.
My argument was that the entry of foreign players will do more harm than good.
For starters, the national team will suffer!
Read NST's article below where national coach K. Rajagobal speaks of dearth of strikers for his team from the M-League and the statistics strikers who have top scored in the league so far:

Raja sings familiar tune

The problems of the national team facing dearth of strikers has been raised again.
So can all those who supported the return of foreign players now stand up and take the blame, or still maintain that the foreign players have done the M-League and national team good?
We have been flip flopping on decisions relating to Malaysia soccer for far too long and each time we take a decision to change, we dig deeper to bury ourselves.
There was some good coming out for Malaysian soccer through some long term planning, emphasis on several national youth teams and the absence of foreign players for a while, but all that seems to have gone back to zero.
Yes the national team and the back-up teams have improved, but they are still a long way to becoming Asian class let alone World class. That is a fact and until and when everyone readily admits that and continues to work and be focused on long term programmes, we are not going to go anywhere.
Yes Rajagobal and Kim Swee's teams might get a few results here and there and show some improvement, but against the best in Asia, we are still minnows.
Results are not going to come overnight or miracles are not going to happen.
Stop all the witch hunting and use all the energy to give constructive criticisms for the development of the beautiful game in Malaysia.
Stop flip flopping!

Read the articles I have written about foreign players and my reasons and you will understand, why I am dead against foreign players at this stage.
I am sure I am going to ruffle a few feathers among many circles in the soccer fraternity, but the truth has to be told! Happy deciding what is best for Malaysia soccer.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The final nail to Malaysian soccer

The learned soccer gurus of Malaysia have decided that foreign players return to Malaysian soccer after 70 people attended a two-day brainstorming session two days ago. They included team officials, coaches, FA secretaries, members of the media and former internationals.
No names have been mentioned, but I presume these are the people who are interested in Malaysian soccer and are on a mission to salvage Malaysian soccer.
How much opposition there was to the re-entry of foreign players, I have no clue.
But local competitions committee chairman, Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin in a press conference after the brainstorming session, had said that it was an unanimous decision.
However, I still stand against the return of foreign soccer and I have made my intentions known through my postings in my blog on numerous occasions. I am not going to repeat myself to say why I am against the return of the foreign players. For those who may not have read my earlier postings, I have attached the link at the bottom of this post.
I have been covering Malaysian soccer since 1979, when it was totally amateur, before it went Semi-Pro in 1989 and fully professional in 1994. I have actually seen the slide of Malaysian soccer and I think I am entitled to my opinion on Malaysian soccer, especially since I am so passionate about it. I have even coached and managed a soccer team from the club level to Division Two in the Pro League in a span of 15 years - a long time, but that is what it takes to reach the top and NOT overnight!
I did not get a whisper to come for this brainstorming session to give my two sen worth. Maybe the organisers only wanted "Yes men" to the proposal to bring back the foreign players.
In anycase, I am not complaining about not being invited asked to give my opinion because it is the prerogative of the organisers to invite whom they thought was the best people for the brainstorming session.
I was involved in one such brain storming session in March 2006 in Kuching and I know exactly how these sessions are conducted. Read my story I wrote in The Malay Mail then.
There are just a few points I would like to point out which baffles me on the reason why the decision was taken to bring the foreign players and they are:

*"Much has been said about whether we should allow foreign players back and it cannot be denied that the imports raise the level of the league when they play"
So what happens to our national team? Does the standard also raise?

* "The need to bring back foreign players is to arrest the decline in fan appeal in domestic competitions"
So how is it that teams like Selangor, Kelantan and Negri Sembilan can still draw the crowd without foreign players?

* "But we have to bear in mind that teams must be ready financially for imports to return and it is for this reason we have decided that foreign players will be allowed three to a team from 2012"
If they were not financially ready all these years, what guarantee is that they will be in a season

*"Those unable to give their assurance cannot take in foreign players"
So the rich teams will strengthen and arm themselves with foreign players, while the poor teams will become whipping boys of the League. So how does this help raise the standard of the League?

*Foreign players can only be sourced from countries ranked higher than Malaysia in the FIFA world rankings as at Aug 1, 2011
Malaysia is currently ranked 144 out of 200. How far high up can Malaysia go up by Aug 1 next year? Let us take a generous assumption that they reach 120! Is players from countries from teams ranked above 120 going to help Malaysian soccer? Maybe if it was said that foreign players must come from countries who are ranked among the top 50, it makes sense.
Note: Malaysia is currently ranked 164

Notably missing from the comments after the brainstorming session was about the national team and players for the national team.
So is the Malaysian Super League all about domestic soccer?
What will happen to the national team who will suffer a dearth of strikers, central midfielders and defenders - the backbone of the team - when most teams hire foreign players for these position and leave the local players on the bench.
With each team taking three players, if ten teams hire foreign players - 30 locals players will have to warm the bench!
The decision of the competitions committee to bring back the foreign players will only be final after being approved by the executive committee which meets on Monday.
Can we expect the decision to be overturned in the genuine interest of Malaysian soccer and local players? Most unlikely!
I have a suggestion: Since there are reservations about financial implications in bringing back the foreign players and also to be fair to all teams and not be selfish and think of the rich teams only, why not just restrict to ONE foreign player!
This way financial burden will be under control, all teams will have a fair chance to compete on a level playing field, a majority of the local players will still be playing in the League, the national team will still be able to get some quality players from the League and above all, teams will be very thorough in selecting the player their hire, because they cannot afford to comprise on quality and would want to hire the best available player. This way, there is a chance to see some improvement in the league, instead of seeing every John, Kamara and Fendi plying the Malaysian League.
Food for thought? Again most unlikely not, because the brainstorming session have come up with a decision which will chart Malaysian soccer upwards and there are influential people!
Good luck to Malaysian soccer!

Previous stories written on foreign players:

Dubious honour for Malaysian soccer

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Foreign players for M-League up in the air, yet again!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Foreign players issue up in the air again!

Sunday, April 4, 2010 - Foreign players will improve Malaysian soccer?