Friday, April 1, 2016

At crossroads of no return


 At a crossroads

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) are in a Catch-22 situation, and only if they get out of this bind quickly - with a wise decision - is there any hope for Malaysian football.
If FAM continue to make "popular" decisions to please their affiliates and council members, coming up with half-baked and short-term programmes to resurrect Malaysian football, we are going to face more embarrassment and sink further.
For starters, the issue of FAM's leadership has to be sorted out. Its president, the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, has to state clearly whether he is staying on or sticking to his decision to quit.
Even his decision to quit is a puzzle as he has said that he will resign in stages.
Talk of his wish to quit the FAM's top post surfaced after Malaysia's disastrous 0-10 loss to United Arab Emirates in a 2018 World Cup/2019 Asia Cup qualifier in September last year.
Tengku Abdullah said he would hand over the reins gradually to his deputy, Afandi Hamzah, to ensure the nation's main football body functioned smoothly. 
In July last year, Tengku Abdullah had said that he would resign if Harimau Malaya failed to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup. 
Then, there was speculation that Tengku Abdullah was eyeing the Asian Football Confederation president’s post held by Bahrain’s Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa. The latter was heavily tipped to take over the Fifa presidency in February this year.
But when Shaikh Salman lost to Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino, the FAM executive committee met and wanted Tengku Abdullah to reconsider his decision to call it quits. This was duly conveyed to the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang by FAM secretary-general Hamidin Mohd Amin recently.
However, Tengku Abdullah has yet to take an official stance.
With Malaysia hosting the 67th Fifa Congress in May next year, at which event the host nation for the 2026 World Cup will be chosen, it is only appropriate that Tengku Abdullah, as the Fifa exco member, is FAM president.
This means he will have a bit of time to put things in order at the national body, once and for all. After that, if he still wants to quit, at least his conscience would be clear that he did his best to sort out Malaysian football. But if Tengku Abdullah decides to quit now, it would seem like he is dumping FAM when they are at their lowest ebb.
But most importantly, in staying on, Tengku Abdullah must quickly get rid of the hangers-on, the deadwood, those who are there for personal gains and, above all, those who do not have a clue about the game and professionalism.
If Tengku Abdullah is not prepared to do that, then he should not be the only one resigning. An extraordinary general meeting should be convened to call for the resignation of all current FAM members and a fresh election held to pick a new team with a new mandate.
The ball is indeed in Tengku Abdullah's court.
In the meantime, FAM should stop making hasty decisions in trying to find solutions for the ills of Malaysian football. There is no shortcut to rectify the rotten state of Malaysian football.
We need to start from scratch with a long-term programme that must be nurtured with dedication, discipline and patience.
Stop hoping for miracles and depending on 30-something players to perform magic. Our youth are the future of Malaysian football but we have to instill in them pride, passion and a hunger for success right from the start.
It is true that footballing nations ranked higher than us do not want to play against our national team, but that is no excuse to bring in lowly teams that are plagued with corruption and then face the embarrassment of not even being able to beat them.
But first, stop making excuses for drawn and lost matches. A loss is a loss. A team cannot have played well and lost!
Also, stop saying we do not have strikers. Address the problem, which is staring at us in the face – the invasion of foreign players.
It will take courage, sincerity and professionalism to turn things around in Malaysian football. Do we have the qualities? One certainly hopes so. But if we do not, then let us just resign ourselves to playing social and kampung football.
Enough is enough!

TONY is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​​​

No comments: