Friday, May 13, 2016

Do it for the clubs, PKNS!


Romance, excitement, upsets and giant killings feats are all trimmings of the FA Cup tournament and PKNS gave all of that en route to qualifying for the 2016 FA Cup final tomorrow against hot favourite and Malaysian football giant, Johor Darul Ta’zim.
PKNS (Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor or State Development Corporation of Selangor) will be the first club to attempt to win the FA Cup since the competition was inaugurated in 1990.
Club-based football has been trying to make its mark on Malaysian football but has failed miserably thus far because in this country, it is all about state-based sentiments.
Besides, several clubs that tried to break the monopoly of states were hampered by a lack of resources, especially monetary, to sustain themselves.
Those clubs that have come on board are mainly employer-based and do well as long as there is support from management, but the moment there is a shift in top-level management or a change in company policy, the umbilical cord is severed.
Among the big spenders that did well in the past but could not withstand the test of time are MPPJ (Malaysia Cup champion in 2004), Malacca Telekom, Public Bank, Negri Sembilan Chempaka, UPD-MyTeam FC, Plus and MK Land, to name but a few.
Smaller clubs that folded after playing in the Premier League include Kuala Lumpur Malay Mail FC (2000-2002).
PKNS is one of the oldest clubs around, having been formed in 1967. From a powerhouse in the Selangor League, they went on to become one of the top clubs in FAM Cup, joint champions with Negri Sembilan Indians in 1978, winning it in 1979, and winning it again, in 2002. They were then admitted to the Premier League, where they remained for nine seasons before emerging the champion in 2011 and getting prompted to Super League. They won the Fair Play trophy in 2006 and were voted the Best Club in 2011.
Other club teams in the Malaysian League are relatively newcomers as compared to PKNS in Felda United who are currently heading the Super League table and T-Team, while in the Premier League together with PKNS are DRB-Hicom, Uitm and Sime Darby.
If PKNS, currently back in the Premier League, bag the FA Cup, they will be the first club to do so.
Indeed, PKNS have a proud history as they have not only been a club for players to pursue their football career but also a place of employment.
In the 1970s and 1980s, when professional football was an alien term, PKNS were already a "professional club" under the leadership of former Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Harun Idris, who was considered the godfather of Selangor football. The club excelled as top management prioritised sport.
In fact, the late Mokhtar Dahari and R. Arumugam, Walter Biggs, Hanapiah Ali, Reduan Abdullah, brothers Shah Norbit and Zulkifli, Khadhir Buyong, Quah Swee Leong and K. Rajagobal played for PKNS.
PKNS not only is big in football but the sports club also excel in many other sports like hockey, athletics, basketball and others.
The club have their own facilities for sports activities in the form of the PKNS Sports Complex, which boasts two football fields. They are also big on football development with a Football Academy in place.
Leading the club today is their first woman chairperson, Siti Zubaidah Abdul Jabar.
Winning the FA Cup final will see PKNS earn a place in the AFC Cup next year, which alone should be enough incentive for the team to rise to the occasion and take the club to the next level – international.
The odds may be stacked heavily against PKNS but the FA Cup is, after all, about upsets and could well see coach E. Elavarasan steer his team to victory.
It may be a long shot but no other club deserves the impossible dream more than PKNS. Win or lose, the players would have done their club proud and should walk tall with their heads held high no matter what the outcome.
PKNS would do club football a great favour if they won because that would underline the fact that club football is alive and can make the cut.
And what better time for PKNS to stamp their authority and win more fans than now when "big brother" Selangor is facing turbulence after having been ousted out of the FA Cup and AFC Cup and still trying to find a firm footing in the M-League.
The club have only ordered 10,000 tickets for their fan base but that could easily double if they captured the FA Cup and converted some of the Red Giants to Red Ants.
PKNS’ mantra for the night should be "nothing is impossible".

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​

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