Tuesday, November 22, 2011


No Guts, No Glory

Not many of us will have experienced anything like it. There are 100,000 people in the stadium urging you on while tens of millions round the country will have their fists clenched on the edge of their seats in homes and warungs. Despite everyone being behind you it must be the loneliest walks ever.

Ahead lies the penalty box and a small white spot. Beyond that the goal with Khairul Fahmie, one of the best young keepers in the region, jumping up and down, trying to distract you. Perhaps even engaging in a bit of sledging.

The goal seems so small. Tiny white sticks, pencil thin, are dwarved by the double tier stand behind full to overflowing with fans in red and white cheering, praying, hoping.

All you have to do is put the ball past the keeper and everyone will be happy. Your team mates, disappearing behind you in the all too familiar huddle in the centre circle, will rush to pat you on the back while the supporters in and out the stadium will release enormous amounts of pent up energy. At least until the next taker.

It’s impossible to replicate that long, lonely walk in training. For Gunawan Dwi Cahyo, nothing could have prepared him for this moment. Indeed the look on his face as the camera recorded his own personal long march for You Tube and the watching millions in the region told its own story. His lips moved incessantly in silent prayer but the rest of his body seemed frozen in time. He was moving but he was giving off the distinct impression he would rather be anywhere than a football field in Jakarta about to kick a ball 12 yards.

It was Gunawan of course who had given Indonesia the lead in the first half but that was a long time ago. It had been cancelled out when sloppy defending had allowed Malaysia to equalize.

After the game Indonesian coach Rahmad Darmawan was reported to have said some of his players went missing when he called for volunteers to take penalties to decide the destiny of the SEA Games gold. If this is true then it is a shocking admission that Indonesia is still far from being a major football power in their own region.

In a nut shell, Indonesian footballers have it too easy. They are cocooned from the world; they play in a domestic league where they are big fish, on big salaries, lording it, playing Billy Big Bollocks in a small pond.

Contrast that with Malaysia. I never tire of repeating this. This Malaysia team, and the ones coming up behind them, have learnt about intimidation and pressure the hard way. They have played in Slovakia, far from their comfort zone; they have won trophies in Vientiane and Jakarta. In short they have become winners the hard way and they are stronger for it. Both physically and mentally.

And next year they will enter a team in Singapore’s SLeague. There will be no love lost there, believe me.

Meanwhile Singapore will enter a team in Malaysia’s league next season and again, taken from their comfort zone of travelling short distances on the bus after a game they will have to endure hostile crowds and unfamiliar conditions. A 12 hour trek back from Kelantan after losing in the last minute in front of a partisan crowd with the ref giving everything to your hosts does wonders for building team spirit.

Playing endless friendlies against local teams in familiar surroundings does nothing. Not when the pressure is on.

average capacity of the malaysian teams stadiums in next season malaysian super league: 29,568.

capacity of jalan besar stadium: 6000
Kudos for such an insightful post about your Indonesian team. Being Malaysian, of course I am proud of the achievement made by our Harimau Malaya team, both senior and muda. However, all these will not become possible without proper development program. We keep on searching for new talents and provide them with as many exposure as possible. There are actually a lot more young and talented players being groomed here to keep the momentum going. Players as young as 6 years old are being trained through systematic program nationwide. I can go on and on talking about the journey we started and still pursuing. Nonetheless, I choose to focus my comments on your team. I think you have a set of young, talented, skilled and enthusiastic players in Garuda Muda as compared to Malaysia. However, the major difference is players coordination. If you look at the game carefully, the movement of Garuda Muda is not well coordinated as compared to Malaysia. The Harimau Muda played as one team while Garuda Muda players were more on individual skills. In terms of exposure, I totally agree with you that they must be exposed to more international games or tournaments. This will build their confidence and also provide them with stronger mentality to withstand any challenges. There are so many things that can be done and I do believe that you guys can develope a great team if it is done strategically. Japan and Korea are the 2 great teams of Asia. Why can't we (Malaysia and Indonesia) be the same? Yes.....we can!
sufijinn, thanks for taking the time to comment. your point about playing as a team is spot on. malaysia visibly faded towards the end of the second half yet indonesia could not break them down. they needed a player like datsakorn but didnt have one.
with the project in uruguay still on going the prospect looks a little brighter and youre right...i think thailand and singapore have had their day, it is time for malaysia and indonesia to rule the roost in south east asia
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