Source : New Straits Times
SALVATION for Malaysian football, most agree, won’t come from the senior players.
If Malaysian football is to rise again, the age-groups are where we must be looking at, but the last two months have shown there may not be much hope there too.
The Under-20 squad, coached by K. Rajagopal, flattered to deceive in the Asian Youth Cup while the Norizan Bakar-helmed Under-23 Doha Asian Games team didn’t even get to do that.
Both squads had, with the exception of several injured players, the best that Malaysian football can claim to have at this moment, but neither managed even a point in both tournaments.
To make matters worse, both teams lost to Iraq — a country ravaged by war even though there are some who feel that their players aren’t affected as most of them are based overseas.
That’s an argument as silly as the national hockey team blaming Pakistan and Japan for denying them a place in the Asian Games semi-finals.
In fact, some are of the opinion that football shouldn’t get the financial support it deserves, but that isn’t the answer to the problem.
The main reason why Malaysian football is seriously in trouble — the national team’s Fifa ranking of 152 is proof of that — is not because there are no development programmes.
For a team sport, the FA of Malaysia has the best when it comes to finance and facilities .
In fact, FAM places great pride in its development programmes which also cover referees, officials and the administration of its affiliates.
The national association understood early on that the game needed quality administrators if the development of players was to be a success, but this is also FAM’s biggest failure.
Football has, by far, the most number of poor administrators and individuals who come into the state FAs more for political mileage than anything else.
This has added to the problem as the focus is only on the Malaysian Super League and the Premier League.
The reason why development is not an enticing carrot is that the electorate and the people in position do not attend age-group tournaments while the MSL and the Premier League, despite dwindling spectators, promise higher visibility.
The fact that there are numerous players in their mid-30s still playing at the top level of Malaysian football indicates just how serious the situation is.
While credit should be given to these players for being able to carry on, isn’t this an admission that a 30-something is a better option than a 20-year-old?
Coaches can’t be blamed for not wanting to take risks as their livelihood depends on results while the administrators have to answer to the office bearers who are not interested in solving problems, but just want success.
If this goes on, Malaysian football will die. The signs are already there, yet FAM is hesitant to wield the big stick, despite having time and again threatened to do so.
In actual fact, FAM can’t. For the real decision makers are the States, and they are not going to agree to something which will be against what they believe in – football for self-promotion.
FAM is one of the co-hosts of the Asian Cup next year, but we already know the result.
The national team will not advance to the second round, but Malaysia, all will loudly agree, will be the best host of the four co-hosts.
But is that what we play football for?