Friday, January 27, 2017



 NOMINATIONS for FA of Malaysia’s (FAM) top posts are a hatful despite Malaysia’s Fifa ranking of 161.
There is much keenness for posts in an association often criticised by the media for embarrassingly inadequate management.
It will be interesting to see whether the nominees have come forward with noble motives to revive Malaysian football’s slumping standards.
Or are the teeming nominations owed to a desire for the glamour and perks that go with being involved with the world’s most popular sport?
Inevitably, attenion revolves around the contest for the president’s post featurning four contestants: Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, FAM Integrity Committee chairman Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat, and former FA of Kelantan president Tan Sri Annuar Musa.
There are 10 nominations for the two deputy president’s posts and 14 for the four vice-presidential slots.
The nominees have until Feb 13 to confirm acceptance of nominations.
There will be a final executive council meeting of the current term on that day, after which the confirmed candidates will be formally announced.
With the exception of Tunku Ismail who is a popular choice among the affiliates, despite him having stated he is not interested and throwing his support beind Aseh, the rest must surely have indicated their keenness to be nominated by the 20 affiliates.
Of course, the nomination of Khairy surprised many; it is learnt he’s serious and rumoured to have obtained cabinet approval.
There has been a tacit understanding cabinet ministers should not hold posts in sports associations.
The only minister who is still holding a post in a national sports association is Datuk Shahidan Kassim, the president of Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) since 1996. He was last re-elected in 2015.
He is said to have gained permission from the cabinet for his foray into a national sports leadership role.
Khairy is, without doubt, passionate about football and has been steering the National Football Development Programme (NFDP).
There have been indications Khairy could move up to the education ministry. He has already said the sports and education ministries should be twinned.
But the question is, should he run for the president’s post, will it not be a conflict of interest between specifically tending to FAM and minding the general store of all sports associations in the country?
How will the national sports associations (NSAs) react if he decides to run?
On the grapevine, the indications are it will be a two-cornered fight between Khairy and Aseh.
Tunku Ismail and Annuar are expected to make way. Annuar is also going for deputy president.
Interesting days ahead indeed, but whether at the elective congress on March 2, the better candidates win is left to be seen.
FAM are infamous for internal politics wherein affiliates vote candidates who will look after their interests.
Keen campaigning is going on and indications are that votes will be cast for subservient candidates instead of independently critical ones who are prepared to work and possess ideas to turn Malaysian football around.
There is speculation all the early excitement could just fizzle out.
Let us not be fooled anyone who helms FAM will be able to turn around Malaysia’s fortunes on short order.
A turnaround is going to be a long term process; whether the fans will be patient and support the plans is another question altogether.
Besides, the affiliates could well be a difficult bunch to deal with for the new president.
It’s no surprise in FAM, the real power brokers are the ones who hold sway in the pre-council meetings, held before the actual council meetings take place.
The actual council meetings are a breeze, merely endorsing pre-arranged decisions.
Will all that change under a new regime or will it be a continuation of the status quo?
There are many power brokers and they will definitely be working overtime in the intense prelude to the polls.
Let’s hope and pray the right choices are made.
Wishing all Chinese Malaysians a Happy Lunar New Year.
I hope the year of the rooster will see Malaysian football preen with pride rather than sink in embarrassment.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades of experience and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at


Monday, January 23, 2017


Tribute to Dahlan: Veteren crooner touched to see old NSTP friends, football teammates [VIDEO] BY BY FAREZZA HANUM RASHID - 22 JANUARY 2017 @ 1:17 PM Facebook Twitter Share KUALA LUMPUR: VETERAN crooner Datuk Dahlan Zainuddin could not help but sing for his old friends at his tribute dinner on Friday despite being advised by doctors to stay offstage for at least one year. Touching everyone’s heart with his smooth voice, Dahlan performed three songs with his old Melody Buskers bandmates, who continue to entertain guests at the popular Nasi Lemak Tanglin stall here. Dahlan, 76, had a stroke in July. Moved by his condition, veteran journalist Tony Mariadass organised a tribute dinner for him. “I had planned to organise a tribute football match for Dahlan previously, but after the stroke, I thought a dinner would be more appropriate,” Mariadass, 59, told the New Sunday Times at the Olympic Sports Hotel here. Dahlan worked in the New Straits Times Press (NSTP) marketing and advertising department, where he captained and coached the football team from the 1970s to the 1980s. “I was 19 when I joined NSTP in 1977, so I can say that I grew up with him when I played right-winger for the team,” Mariadass said. The NSTP team was not just a group of footballers playing for fun. They played internationally in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore, among others. Dahlan was the midfielder, who had first played for the Selangor Indian Association in the Selangor League before playing for teams like Starlight Club, Chui Lok, Belia Sinaran and Mara. As he grew older, he continued to play in the veterans’ team of Ulu Klang Recreation Club. “We had very little funding, so the whole team collected money for our first trip to Bangkok by train. Sometimes Dahlan’s band would travel with us, too. “Although this dinner was my idea, everybody put in the effort to make it happen because we shared so many memories together and most of us have not seen each other for more than 30 years,” Mariadass said.  Besides the surprise appearance by Melody Buskers, the comrades also presented a contribution of RM5,400 to Dahlan. “It is not a donation, but a small contribution to help him cope with some expenses. That amount is very small compared to what he did for us. “I had most of the old team’s contact numbers as we are active in the veterans league, so getting in touch with everyone was not hard.” Mariadass took only a month to organise the event. R. Mohanan, 58, felt obliged to share his Dahlan story, who is also fondly called Dell by his circle of friends, for it was because of the latter that he became the man he was today. “My mother used to babysit Dell’s daughter at her home in Lucky Garden. She told him that I was jobless but was a good football player, so he asked me to try out for the team. “He saw my potential and I got a spot on the team as a midfielder and  the next day, I got a job as a manual worker for NSTP,” Mohanan said. This was in 1978 and he was only 19. He recalled the rigorous training under Dahlan’s captaincy, sprinting up and down the hills at Lake Garden and the staircase at Panggung Anniversary. He travelled overseas for the first time in his life with the team in 1979. They went to Hong Kong. “My mother sent me off at the airport and there is a picture of her with Dahlan there together. “My family owes so much to Dahlan. I have four children who are engineers and doctors, and they all know what Dahlan had done for us.” When he told Dahlan and his wife, Datin Effa Rizan, of his mother’s passing in 1996, they were shocked and saddened for not knowing earlier. “If he had not asked me to try out for the company’s football team, I would probably be nowhere now.” Mohanan retired in 2014 as a senior sales executive. He retired from football in 2007 after fracturing his ankle while playing in the veterans’ league and had lost contact with most of his old teammates. “Tony managed to find us and when he initiated this dinner, I immediately confirmed my attendance.” Effa, Dahlan’s wife of 40 years, was touched by the event held in her husband’s honour. “We knew about the dinner, but we were surprised to see Dahlan’s old band here, too. I have known these men when they were just teenagers. How they have changed,” she said. Effa said although Dahlan was unwell, she managed to get him out of the house for the tribute dinner. “I am glad we are here tonight because my husband tends to get lonely staying at home all the time. “Seeing all of his old friends has lifted his spirits and cheered him up.” Effa said their family would not be putting their hopes too high and that they would be grateful if Dahlan could recover even 60 per cent of his health. In his emotional speech, Dahlan expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Mariadass for putting together the dinner and his old friends for coming to see him, especially his old NSTP football team. “I was very hard on all of you and trained you to the point of injury, but here you are just to see me,” he said. Although known as a crooner, Dahlan owed the best part of his life to football. “Football gave me so much life experience and introduced me to all sorts of people because I played for the Indian, Chinese and Malay clubs. “The NSTP team was the only Malaysian newspaper team back then to play in international inter-media tournaments.” Although the sight in his left eye was deteriorating, Dahlan said he was getting the best medical treatment and that he could already walk around. He almost brought tears to everyone’s eyes when he performed Save the Last Dance for Me, which he sang in his soft voice. Dahlan, famous for his song Kisah Seorang Biduan (A Singer’s Story), began his singing career after winning the Bintang RTM competition in 1975. He was also the first local artiste to hold a concert at the National Stadium in 1978. 85 reads Veteran artiste Datuk Dahlan Zainuddin performing at a tribute dinner held at his honour in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. Pix by Khairull Azry Bidin/ NSTP Datuk Dahlan Zainuddin (fourth from left) and his wife Datin Effa Rizan with former NSTP staff. With them is Tony Mariadass (behind Dahlan). Pix by Khairull Azry Bidin/ NSTP 

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Friday, January 20, 2017


Foreign legion stunt m-league


  THE Malaysia League kicks off today but not all is well, with teams threatening to pull-out owing to financial problems, venues not finalised, incomplete registration forms and a host of other problems.
It is indeed sad that after the having gone semi-pro in 1989, professional in 1994 and the league now managed privately by Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership, we are still having problems.
The league kicks off with the Charity Shield match between Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and Malaysia Cup champions Kedah.
In all probability, these two teams will battle for honours with PKNS, Pahang and Perak pushing them.
In the Premier League, it could well be close battle as a majority of the teams are of the same level, although Armed Forces, JDT II, Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur could have an edge.
Sadly, it is the foreign players who are expected to hog the limelight — even though we don’t have top notch imports to begin with.
The top scorers have been foreigners for many years as nearly every team opt for them as their main strikers.
Little wonder every national coach who comes along, laments the lack of top strikers.
That FA of Malaysia still allow four foreign players (one must be from Asia) is puzzling.
If all teams in the Super and Premier Leagues use their full quota of foreign players, we will have 96 players plying their trade in Malaysia.
Gone are the days when teams had open trials for local players or go to districts and kampung in search of talent.
Today, the same local players move from one team to another. Yes in yesteryears, players played for a long period too, but they remained because of their high quality.
Today, average players remain in the game because there is an increase in teams and a dearth of talent.
If there are any fresh players breaking through, they come from the President’s Cup. But their quality too is nothing much to shout about because they play too few matches in the youth league and the quality too is much left to be desired.
In the last 25 years, we would have easily had more than 700 foreign players — from Asia (21 countries) Africa (24), Europe (25), South America (six), Oceania (two) and North America, Central America (four) — playing in the M-League.
Malaysia’s world ranking is 161 as compared to below 100 when we did not have foreign players.
Even the Chinese FA, who have cash-rich clubs to lure top quality international talent, have announced their Super League teams would be able to field no more than three foreigners per match this season.
Previously four non-Chinese players were allowed, provided one was from Asia.
Their reasoning was the decision would be “advantageous for the overall development of Chinese football for the cultivation of Chinese local footballers and the advantageous for raising the level of China’s national team.”
When China, ranked 82nd in the world, having qualified for the World Cup finals in 2002 and President Xi Jinping having declared three goals for the country — to host, qualify, and win a World Cup — are concerned about “foreigners impact”, it is surprising we do not see it the same way.
The Asian giants had made improving youth football programmes a national priority, with an official plan promising 20,000 academies and 30 million elementary and middle school pupils within four years.
China have worked since 2009 to promote grassroots football and crush illegal gambling syndicates.
The sooner we get our priorities right, the sooner we will see light at the end of the tunnel. Otherwise, we will continue groping in the dark.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades of experience and is passionate about local sports. He can be reached at

Friday, January 13, 2017



  CONGRATULATIONS to Faiz Subri for being awarded the Fifa Puskas Award for his outstanding freekick goal for Penang against Pahang on Feb 16 last year.
The 29-year player who hails from Ayer Hitam in Kedah but dons Penang colours, has become an overnight star.
Credit must be given as he is the first Asian to win the award inaugurated in 2009.
However, as rightly pointed out by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, there is no need to place Faiz on a pedestal.
The Crown Prince has blamed the media and social media for hyping up Faiz’s achievement and by all indications it is not going to stop.
In fact, the circus has just began.
As Faiz touched down on Wednesday afternoon, the FA of Malaysia announced a monetary reward of a total of RM150,000 (RM100,000 from the Sports Ministry and RM50,000 from FAM).
The Penang government promised him RM50,000.
Celebrations have begun in Penang. Kedah, where he kicked off his career as an Under-21 President’s Cup player (2006-2008), have also joined in the and even have plans for a road show. More rewards are expected to pour in.
Faiz scored 10 goals to help them earn promotion to the Super League in 2015. But, apart from his wonder goal, he failed to shine last year due to injuries.
Politicians have joined the bandwagon to share in Faiz’s limelight, for their political mileage.
Faiz will be awarded the Bintang Semangat Jerai Kedah in conjunction with the Sultan of Kedah, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah’s 89th birthday celebrations next week and it will come as no surprise if he is given a Datukship!
The recognition is well and good but we have to ask, what is it going to do for Malaysian football?
Maybe Penang FA setting up a football academy with Faiz as the icon, could be a better way to inspire youngsters.
We need to think out of the box and not get overly excited on matters which will not change the status of Malaysian football. We are ranked No 161 in the world.
For all we know, Faiz could well fade away to obscurity.
The problem with Malaysian sports is that we are so starved of “real successes” that we rejoice and go overboard with any recognition without weighing it in the right context.
Tunku Ismail may have sounded harsh or unappreciative but he was speaking the truth and putting the matter into perspective.
He had said in his statement: “I would rather be hated for stating the truth than loved for stating unsubstantiated facts.”
He added: “This is a good individual achievement, but we must ask, where does the national football stand in terms of corruption, international standing, and team management in comparison to teams like Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines or Indonesia that are on a constant and rapid incline. So what have I got to be proud of?
“It’s true Faiz’s achievement is good, but when FAM stated his achievement is a benchmark for Malaysian football, I beg to differ. He’s only scored one goal, and apart from that, he’s been oblivious throughout the season.
“To place him on the pedestal and be comfortable with our current standing now, is not right. This is why the football in Malaysia and our country cannot progress in every aspect. “
The Crown Prince was also spot on when he said he will be prouder to give recognition to players such as Zainal Abidin Hassan, Dollah Salleh, Santokh Singh, Amri Yahyah, Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan, Safee Sali, Badrol Radzi, Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Khairul Fahmi Che Mat and Hairuddin Omar as they not only scored goals every season, but they’ve also achieved success in the clubs they represented.
“We should also give recognition for their contributions to the national team too,” he added.
Indeed there are more important issues to address in Malaysian football such as our integrity and the current reputation of our national football.
It is without doubt that many will disagree with views expressed, but sometimes the truth hurts.
Let us for the love of the game and the nation’s football status, start doing the right things to see our standard rise to a respectable level again.
Only one or two teams alone cannot champion the cause. It has to be a national agenda and a collective effort of all.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades of experience and is passionate about local sports. He can be reached at


Friday, January 6, 2017


A. THIAYAGA RAJU proved passion and patriotism are very much alive.
The 55-year-old, who has been a fan of the Singapore national team since he was 12, forked out S$8,000 (RM25,000) to organise a “Singapore Legends Appreciation Night” on Sunday at Ceylon Sports Club.
Thiayaga is not a wealthy person nor was he seeking publicity. What he did was a genuine gesture and for the love of Singapore football and his appreciation to players who brought glory through the Malaysia Cup.
Thiayaga recalled: “I became a fan on Sunday May 26, 1974. 
“I went to National Stadium for the first time to watch Singapore play Penang in a Malaysia Cup first leg semifinal. 
“I was 12. When my friends and I arrived at the stadium, we saw thousands of fans climbing the stadium gates and high walls.
“We did likewise not knowing we were entering the stadium illegally. There were about 70,000 fans inside (capacity was only 60,000).
“Fans risking limb and life to watch Singapore footballers amazed me.
“Three years later, Singapore reached the Malaysia Cup final which they won 3-2 in extratime with Quah Kim Song bagging a brace. I started hero worshipping many of the players.
“It remains the greatest day in Singapore football.”
Among those from that team present at the appreciation dinner were Kim Song, Roy Krishnan, Lim Teng Sai, Seak Poh Leong and family members of the late Dollah Kassim and Lim Chiew Peng.
Thiayaga wrote a letter to newspapers asking for the legends to be recognised and honoured. Despite it being published, there were no interested parties.
“Even more disappointing, the FA of Singapore did not respond,” said Thiayaga, who then decided to organise the dinner on his own.
“It was my passion for the game and my appreciation of the many legends who gave me and Singapore fans many joyous and memorable moments,” said Thiayaga, who is married to Kuek Sook Chern and has two children — T. Yuvarani, 21 and T. Ajit Kumar, 19.
Thiayaga also had Malaysian heroes like N. Thanabalan, Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, M. Chandran and the late Isa Bakar to name a few.
“Isa who played for Penang in 1972, became a good friend when I launched my book on Terry Pathmanathan (Captain Marvel: The T. Pathmanathan Story) at SRC Padang in 1998,” said Thiayaga.
“Isa wanted me to write a similar book on Malaysian football legends and even offered me to stay in his house for six months to write it. But I couldn’t as I’m not able to spend so much time away from home.”
Thiayaga said organising the event honouring them was a dream come true and he was grateful that a large number of those invited turned up, especially from the Malaysia Cup victorious Singapore teams of 1977 (beat Penang 3-2), 1980 (beat Selangor 2-1), and 1994 (beat Pahang 4-0).
The night began with a video presentation of Singapore’s golden moments in the Malaysia Cup.
Thiayaga had 54 plaques to be presented to people who had contributed to Singapore football, including footballers, family members and sports journalists from Singapore and Malaysia. Only 45 were present to receive their plaques.
From left, Rocky Lim, national coach V Sundramoorthy, Lions legends Quah Kim Song and Samad Allapitchay, diehard fan A Thiyaga Raju, head coach of youth Fandi Ahmad, former national player Ho Kwang Hock and veteran radio DJ Brian Richmond. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHOO PHOTOS

The event was emceed by veteran sports commentator, radio DJ, former national youth player and coach, Brian Richmond.
Godfrey Robert, a former Sports Editor of The Straits Times and Consulting Editor of The New Paper and veteran sports journalist Joe Dorai (Straits Times) were honoured from the Singaporean media while Dan Guen Chin and this scribe were honoured from across the causeway.
Malaysian footballers honoured were Chin Aun and Thanabalan.
Thiayaga should be applauded for his effort and determination to recognise the footballing legends of Singapore.
Thiayaga as an individual shown the way for Singaporeans and it’s about time Malaysia’s ex-internationals be given due recognition.

Footballers honoured:
Fandi Ahmad, V. Sundram Moorthy, S. Rajagopal, Samad Allapitchay, T. Pathmanathan, R. Suriamurthi, Quah Kim Song, Roy Krishnan, Robert Sim, Lim Teng Sai, Lim Tien Jit, Malek Awab, K. Kannan

D. Devaraj, Salim Moin, Haslir Ibrahim, Razali Saad, Yahya Madon, Ho Kwang Hock, Samsudin Rahmat, Seak Poh Leong, Dollah Kassim, Lim Chiew Peng and Brian Richmond.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades of experience
and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at