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Thursday, October 02, 2014

 

Malaysia Assess Harimau Muda Project

PETALING JAYA: Friday is D-Day for the Harimau Muda Project teams.

That’s when the FA of Malaysia (FAM) will review the age-group squads under their wings – Harimau Muda ‘A’ (Under-22), ‘B’ (Under-20), ‘C’ (Under-18) and ‘D’ (Under-16).

And that’s also when FAM president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who is the national team’s management committee chairman, will assess the teams and plan what’s best for the future.

The committee will have to decide which of the squads should be sent abroad for training-cum-playing stints and which of them will be made to get exposure by playing in the domestic competitions (Super League, Premier League, FAM Cup).

They will also have to decide whether to disband any of the teams or to release the boys back to their respective state teams. 

“We are serious about development and will review all the teams’ progress,” Tengku Abdullah said after the official handing over ceremony of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup ball – Ekin – from Nike at a hotel here on Wednesday.

If that’s the case, then perhaps FAM should listen to AFC secretary general Datuk Alex Soosay, who feels that it’s time to put their faith on the Under-16 team. 

Alex was impressed with coach S. Balachandran’s boys in the AFC Under-16 championship in Bangkok last month. The boys lost in the quarter-finals and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2015 World Under-17 Finals in Chile. 

“I have not seen such exciting talents in the Malaysian youth team for a long time now. It reminded me of gifted talents like Azizul Abu Hanifah.

These boys showed promise although they lost to South Korea (1-0) and Australia (2-1) by narrow margins. This is where it begins ... to nurture them when they are young,” Alex said.

“Perhaps they can be sent for attachment stints – this will enhance their football careers.”

The Harimau Muda Project was mooted in 2007 and did initially provide positive results. They even went on playing-cum-training stints in Czech Republic and Europe. 

It began to bear fruit when Malaysia finally won the 2009 SEA Games in Laos – after a lapse of 20 years. 

The following year, several players from the Harimau Muda squad graduated to the senior team and went on to help them win the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time in 2010.

At the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, the team qualified for the second round for the first time after three decades. At the 2011 Jakarta SEA Games Malaysia retained the gold medal.

Then the decline began to set in.
 
At the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games, the boys lost to Singapore (2-1) in the bronze medal playoff. At the ongoing Incheon Asian Games in South Korea, Malaysia were first round casualties. But, then again, nobody expected them to be champions, either.

The Harimau Muda ‘A’ team even went on a six-month training-cum-playing stint in the Queensland Premier League in Australia. That will surely come under microscope tomorrow although it was part of the development programme to prepare the boys for the SEA Games in Singapore next June.

Many were shocked to see FAM spending millions for the Aussie stint when they could have done competed in the local league.

COMMENT - just because they spend money on these projects doesn't mean they are always going to pay off. Youth football is always a gamble...Malaysia's second favourite team, Manchester United, have never been able to replicate the success of the Scholes batch.. developing young footballers is not like going to a shop and buying seeds for the garden

Comments:
Time to stop this sort of "elitism" approach in developing talent where pluralism should be the way to go.
 
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