Thursday, September 03, 2015


Malaysia, Singapore Face Middle East Challenge

Neither Malaysia nor Singapore go into their tricky World Cup Qualifiers in the Middle East later today with hopes flying high.

Malaysia's campaign for Russia 2018 or even UAE 2019 started with a limp wristed home double header where they were held 1-1 by minnows Timor Leste when Ramon Saro's injury time equaliser rocked the home side out of their malaise. They followed that with a 6-0 massacre by Palestine, taking nothing from the visiting side but the result can only be seen as a humiliation.

A 0-0 draw last week against Bangladesh was also greeted with a mixture of scorn and incredulity and no one really expects the Malaysians to emerge from the fancied UAE with anything beyond the modicum of pride and narrow loss can bring. And with a 6-0 mauling at the hands of Oman last time they were in the region expectations are definitely on the low side,

Malaysian fans made headines earlier in the yearr when they called for a ban on 'circus games' against the likes of Liverpool and Spurs; it seems the real clowns lie elsewhere. Next Tuesday they host Saudi then their Asian Cup campaign, let alone their bid for the World Cup could well be in tatters and not many fans will be laughing.

The future looks none too rosy either after the Under 19 side were thumped 5-0 by Thailand in the ASEAN Football Federation Championships in Laos.

In contrast Singapore should be buzzing. They take on Syria in Oman knowing they picked up a lovely four points from their opening two games including a surprise draw against favourites Japan thanks in no small part to the heroics of keeper Izwan Mahbud and find themselves top of their group.

But we are talking about Singapore here where pessimism and whining about the local football are national traits and a 4-0 loss away to Qatar in a friendly last week is seen by many as a more accurate guage of where the team stands. Which is a shame because a good result against Syria would leave the Lions in a good place with two home games against Afghanistan and Cambodia to follow. By the middle of next month they could be sitting very pretty indeed.

But there was a national release of groans recently when the FA announced they would be keeping coach Bernd Stang on until the end of the campaign, in effect extending his contract. It seems many have been unimpressed by the German but results tell another story and indeed those detractors will soon find another song sheet if the Lions emerge from these next three games in a very strong position.

As for Indonesia, forget it. The story that FIFA would be visiting in October in the wake of the suspension was dispelled by FIFA itself who said they would do nothing until the government decided that the PSSI was the only body to run football. No end in sight to the crisis then and players, coaches and fans continue to be the losers in that messy affair.

A brief word about Kuwait. Following on from the news they wanted to delay the GCC Cup in December because the stadiums weren't ready they have now decided to play their WCQs overseas. Their tie with Raddy Avramovic's Myanmar has been switched to Qatar and it looks like the other ties will follow suit which of course means my plans for today have been well and truly nixxed...

Injuries have hit the Kuwait squad which is odd as the domestic season hasn't begun yet and three players Dharei Saeid, Amar Ma'touq and the flamboyant Fahad Al Enezi returned home from Doha a couple of days ago.

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