Saturday, July 21, 2007


Sympathy for Malaysia

It's not easy the being laughing stock, not just of ASEAN but now Asia but I can't help but feel sympathy for the fan of Malaysian football and I choose my words carefully. The average Malaysian football fan supports Manchester United or Liverpool and wouldn't know his way to Bukit Jalil if you stood him outside the main entrance. Let's put those glory hunters aside.

Malaysian preparations for a tournament they hosted were nothing short of an embarrasment. In the run up to this prestigious cup their focus was less on China and Iran coming to town and more on a proposed visit by English Champions Manchester United. With the football authorities supported by the government they fought tooth and nail for a symbolic friendly that meant nothing but glamour and photo opportunities and overlooked the importance of the Asian Cup for football in their own backyard.

What message this sent to the Malaysian team and coaches as they prepared doesn't need rocket science to imagine.

While the FAM, AFC, MU et all engaged in this unseemly dispute the players themselves were sent off to some boonies in Australia to 'prepare' against second tier club sides. As the players worked and trained in a down under winter for the cup officials nauseously expounded the benefits of a United visit to Malaysian football keenly overlooking the fact that perhaps a good Asian Cup run could have knock on benefits domestically.

Officials intent on being photographed with bored looking United players are not solely responsible for Malaysia's disasterous showing. Problems lie much deeper. But at a time when football there needed leadership and passion it got apathy and empty seats.

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