Monday, July 27, 2009

Minister: M'sian football on the rise (because we managed 2 goals against Man Utd)

n July 23, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek (image) said that Malaysian football is on the brink of renaissance after an impressive performance against English Premier League champions Manchester United on July 18 [source]. I'm saying that is a very shallow basis of evaluation, Mr. Minister.

Shabery was also glad that the match between the Malaysian XI and Manchester United was given extensive coverage by the foreign media and as well as, YouTube. The Malaysian XI eventually went on to lose 3-2. Despite the loss, the Youth and Sports Minister believes Malaysian football is on the road to recovery.

I watched the game. And to be honest, I truly felt Malaysia's first goal was rather exquisite (because it was intentional and not a fluke) while the second goal was equally good albeit a mistake by the Man Utd goalkeeper. I do not want to take that away from the national squad - it was a good game. But to say that Malaysian football is on the rise after just ONE game against ONE club in pre-season is a short-sighted conclusion.

It doesn't help to also know that Man Utd were not playing on high gear given that the match on July 18 was their first club friendly after a month-long summer break. With all due respect to the national team, that match was nothing short of a pre-season warm up.

That being said, kudos to the Malaysian national team for giving Man Utd a run for their money - even though the Red Devils weren't exactly on high tempo. Nonetheless, I am deeply disappointed and dumbstruck each time Malaysian leaders fail to move beyond the 'jaguh kampung (village champion)' mentality by over-comparing Malaysia's achievements.

Lest we forget the time when a certain parliamentarian boldly argued that Malaysia should be proud for being 'ahead' of Ghana who also gained independence in 1957 while forgetting the fact that our closest neighbour whom we kicked out of the federation, Singapore is already in an economic and social league of its own.

If losing 3-2 to an English Premier League team is worth a cheer then what about the Thai national team drawing 1-1 with League runner ups Liverpool. Or the 3-2 defeat of FC Seoul at the hands of Man Utd. Surely, there isn't really something to rave about when a domestic club like FC Seoul (not necessary South Korea's Best 11) is more than capable of getting a similar score.

The fact is that Malaysian football is still eons away from returning to its former glory of the 1970's. The FAM (Football Association of Malaysia) seems clueless to what should be done to improve a sport plagued with corruption, shortage of talents and lack of public interest. If Malaysia qualifies for the World Cup or say, the Asian Cup, that would definitely be something to celebrate about - not losing 3-2 to a domestic English club.

And now there is even a movement to bestow Amri Yahya (the scorer of both goals against Man Utd on July 18) the Datukship for his brilliant performance [source]. That is just silly.

The question is this: When will our leaders stop making derisory conclusions over minor achievements, get beyond the 'jaguh kampung' mentality and really swallow reality for what it's worth?