FAM need to learn about scheduling

Source : The Star
PENANG: The new-look football season with 13 teams in the Super League instead of eight, is barely two weeks old. 

But, already, the calendar is a shambles. Just four matches into the league, the national team are going into a huddle before the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup competition (formerly known as Tiger Cup) at Korat, Thailand next month.


That means the cream of the crop – what little cream there is in our league – will be away. And the so-called Super League, with dwindling turnouts everywhere, will only suffer. 

The FAM knew about the Korat commitment. They could have drawn their calendar around it. 

Teams like Kedah, Perlis, Terengganu and Pahang especially, cannot help but feel cheated by the national association. 

Take Kedah's Khyril Muhymin, for instance. He played for the national Under-20 team at the Asian Youth meet in India; then joined the pre-Olympic side in Myanmar and then returned home to play for Kedah. 

Now, he is off to national training again. There is such a thing as too much football. 

Kedah will also lose two others in defender L. Thirumurugan and striker Saramsak Kram; Terengganu will have to do without goalkeeper Syamsuri Mustafa, the current number one, while Pahang's old guard Hairuddin Omar has been recalled along with teammate Norhafiz Zamani Misbah and Irwan Idrus for national training.  

Early league leaders Perlis, of course, are among the FAM's “victims” having to lose Azi Shahril Azmi, skipper Fauzi Nan and Azizi Mat Rose, who were the latest players summoned by the national selectors. 

It's a perennial problem and not really an isolated one. Even in countries like England, the club vs country tug-of-war is common, but at least in the West, they put the league on hold when the national team are training. 

Not so here. The people who pay the salaries of the players have to do without them or face the wrath of the national association. 

Breaks in the league can be scheduled. Take this weekend's break, for instance. It was called because Saturday is the eve of Hari Raya Aidil Adha. 

It's a move that can be emulated for the national team – or even for other festive seasons. 

Only last week, Sarawak fell victim to a schedule that did not take into account the Christmas weekend. They could not get flight tickets and had to request for a postponement. 

A look at the fixtures reveals that the FAM have slotted matches for Feb 17, the eve of Chinese New Year, when the highways and airlines will be jammed with “balik kampung” folk heading for their reunion dinners or just to holiday. 

Never mind religious sensitivities – obviously, the FAM believe there are not too many Chinese playing in the league – but another logistic nightmare is on the cards on that day.

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