Monday, March 07, 2016


Kuala Lumpur Enjoy Flying Start

It's not that Kuala Lumpur's glory days are that far behind them. Their trophy haul in the late 1980s would have other capital city sides like Tottenham or Hertha burning with envy. Champions in 1986 and 1988; Malaysia Cup winners in '87, '88 and '89, Charity Shield ('88) and the ASEAN Club Championship in 1989 is no bad collection by anyone's standards...Tottenham would have produced DVDs, commemorative DVDs and this year fans would be wearing official 30th anniversary of the first title t shirts.

With the exception of that first league title, all those honours were won under coach Chow Kwai Lam, a one time Malaysia international who coached the club a few times before ending his career in Singapore where he was working with Paya Lebar Punggol (thanks to South East Asian football gymnastics they are now known as Hougang United)  where he was accused of attempted bribery and find heap big money.

KL flirted one more time with success shortly after Chow had moved on, winning the FA Cup in 1993, 1994 and 1999 as well as adding the Charity Shield in 1990, 1994 and 2000.

And that was it. For a glorious spell in the twilight years of a century Kuala Lumpur were massive. But as is so often the case in the region the people in charge just couldn't seem to build a lasting legacy and the side laying claim to the nations capital became nothing and perhaps it is no surprise apart from three seasons back in 2010, 2011 and 2012 when they fought an annual campaign against relegation, KL's place ha been in the second tier. And the third for one humiliating season.

there were more match fixing allegations and further ignominy came when KL, who had twice reached the AFC Asian Club Championship Semi Finals ('87 & '89) found themselves in the third tier of Malaysian football in 2014. Yes, they bounced back at  the first time of asking but only retained their place for this season because just one side was relegated to the FAM League.

With coach Ismail Zakaria at the helm and given the experiences of the last few seasons I guess fan excitement was hardly fever pitch on the eve of the new season. They did however secure one relatively big name signing with former Australian Under 17 international Mario Karlovic joining after previous spells in Malaysia with ATM and Terengganu. Earlier in his career he played for Persebaya and Minangkabu in Indonesia's Premier League  as well as short spells with Torino and Brisbane Roar. 

They began the season brightly though, defeating PKNS 1-0 in their opening away game with Alselmo Da Salva netting the only goal halfway through the second half. How high was the fans' excitement for the new season? Played in Melaka, the official attendance was given as 327.

Their first home game was against more formidable opposition with JDT II, including former Selangor and Terengganu striker Paolo Rangel in their ranks, making the journey up the toll road to Selayang Stadium. In front of 1,200 KL won 1-0.

A credible draw away to Negeri Sembilan followed, Zhafri Yahya earning a point for the visitors with just three minutes on the clock and a 3-2 win at home to Sabah with goals from Alselmo, Zhafri and Helmi Rameli keeping their unbeaten start to the season going and ensuring KL could sit proudly at the top of the table, albeit after just four rounds.

It's not just in the Premier League that KL have come out all guns blazing. They have made good progress in the FA Cup as well, overcoming two big spending rivals. First up they overcame Melaka United on penalties after drawing 1-1 and at the weekend they travelled north to Perlis and emerged with a 2-0 win and a tie against Perak in the next round.

Without a defeat in six games in all competitions, top of the table, it may not be a repeat of the 1980s in KL but at least the die hard fans have had something to cheer about in recent weeks and will no doubt be hoping the good fortune continues, starting with a good result this Friday away to UiTM.

Early days of course but for now Kuala Lumpur fans must be enjoying reading the back pages of the local papers for the first time in several years and with clubs like Penang and Melaka United showing renewed ambition and investment recently surely  football fans in the capital city deserve a team they can call their own?

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