Friday, July 01, 2011


Young Lions In Malaysia?

Talk surfaced the other day about possible ongoing negitiations between the FAs of Singapore and Malaysia. At the heart is the idea they send their young teams to play in the others' league. So Young Lions in Malaysia, Super League or Premier League, while Harimau Muda play in the SLeague.

I did a piece in Jakarta Casual TV a couple of years ago about the benefits of the Young Lions playing in Malaysia. The benefits aren't even limited to what happens on the pitch. Any coach will tell you the importance of a team bonding off the field as well as on it. Difficult to do that in Singapore where players go home after the game on the bus or by bicycle.

But driving back from Kota Bahru or Kangar after a game where all the decisions went against you? Sitting on the Lebuh Raya driving down Malaysia's spine ruminating on the unfairness of it all? That builds spirit, that builds an espirit de corps. It shows players they are in it together, it gives them shared experiences, it builds a tough mentatlity if handled correctly.

Of course the current Young Lions are now pussy cats; witness the way they went after Beijing Gu'aon last year on the field!

But there's no doubt Malaysia have benefited from having many of their young players play for a while in hostile environment, Slovakia. Agreed, Malaysia is no communist relic but there is a tasty rivalry between the two nations and the Young Lions playing in Malaysia could well tap into that nascent nationalism south of the Causeway.

This story says that it is harder to see how Malaysia would benefit from having Harimau Muda playing in Singapore. And I agree. Not because the standard in Malaysia is higher. I'm not sure it is. But all the things that would benefit the Singaporeans north of the causeway would be missing.

However, check the comments on this story. A Malaysian complaining about match fixing in Singapore. Pot, meet kettle!

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