Thursday, July 17, 2008


Malaysia v Bahrain 1-1

Where to begin?

I never thought I would ever hear myself saying I was looking forward to seeing Malaysia play Bahrain in an Under 16. But said it I did and I was not disappointed. The respective coaches may be, the referee may be and AFF maybe but I wasn't. I may never watch another Manchester United v Liverpool game as long as I live but this was a good old fashioned classic that knocks spots off any East Lancs clash I've seen.

I didn't need to talk to Steve Darby on the phone during the week to know that Malaysia have been the surprise package of this tournament and tonight they came within 60 seconds of reaching the final and playing Australia.

They were excellent. From the talkative goalkeeper Zulfadhli to the captain Saiful Ridzuwan via the bundle of energy in the number six shirt Saaryindran Devandran (my player of the tournament as if anyone cares what I think) they have been heroes and have impressed most neutrals who have bothered to come along.

They took the lead early doors and really dominated a Bahraini side that are no pushovers. Down to 10 men after a sending off on 23 minutes it looked like the side from the Gulf were there for the taking.

It was not to be. But before the amazing twist in this match right at the death there was a fight!

Bahrain were awarded a penalty which Zulfadhli did really well to parry away. A Bahraini netted the rebound but, for some reason best known to tooth fairys and hobglobins, the ref disallowed it.

All hell broke loose and the Bahrani coaching staff streamed on to the pitch. Plenty of pushing and shoving ensured between players and officials before the crowd started getting agitated and started their own.

Here, in Jakarta, at an Under 16 game between Malaysia and Bahrain there was crowd trouble!

Sitting in front of me in the media section were four Bahrani players, one of whom had been the lad red carded first half.

Most of the game they had been glancing nervously at a couple of locals who were yelling whatever they were yelling in Arabic.

When the fun started on the pitch some gobby locals joined in in the stand and the young players reacted. Bad move.

Watching a fight close up is quite funny 'cos very few people are actually interested in having a row. Most just want to tell their mates they were there. These are the windmills who charge in with their arms flailing, rarely connecting.

Another type of person attracted to these things is the peacemaker who may or may not be blesses. His arms are outstretched, making soothing noises. Mother Theresa with bollocks!

Then there are those who just make lots of noise and are too tired to punch anyone. Yelling does that to you I guess.

People scrambled over the seats, past the security guards who should have been there, and did their bit while on the pitch the players and officials turned to watch the matinee. A few coppers ambled over to have a nosey as players kept jumping out of the VVIP section to support their team mates who were visibly outnumbered and coming off a second best, one guy face down kissing the concrete while people jumped around saying 'hold me back.'

Disgusting scenes, Andy, we don't want to see this at our football stadiums. You can imagine the TV commentators but I'm not so sure. Just like ice hockey and Australian rules, people like to see a bit of pushing and shoving and you can imagine the coaches would be quietly satisfied at the team spirit their players showed.

And it worked. Right at the death a classic free kick was headed home and Bahrain had done enough to reach the final. The players sank to the ground, they punched the air (again), with joy while the Malaysians?

They had contributed to a wonderful game of football. It doesn't ease the pain but perhaps one or two will make the grade and look back on this game fondly.

'Cos it was brilliant.

Great read ! Thanks for the commentary ;) Go Bahrain
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