29.12.08

wake up FAM! vietnam are champions!

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Last night, I witnessed the Vietnamese Football Team scored in injury time to prevent extra-time in the Final of the ASEAN Football Championship against the South East Asia powerhouse Thailand, thus becoming the Champions in the region. The pandemonium in the stadium was phenomenal, and to say that the football fans in Malaysia are not watching with envy, is an understatement (but I wonder if FAM has the same feelings as the fans Thinking). Besides, this was the same Vietnam team which virtually knocked Malaysia out of the tournament, when they beat them 3-2 - their winning goal was that lob which bounced and embarrassed the Malaysian goalkeeper, and Malaysian football at a whole - in Phuket.

I wonder when will be the time we can be able to celebrate, like the Vietnamese. Our last proper glory, was at the 1989 SEA Games, when Malaysia beat Singapore in Stadium Merdeka. The fact that Vietnam were stuck in the Vietnam War at the turn of the 70s made the fact even worse for Malaysia, which has been independent since the last 51 years, and remained peaceful and prosperous ever since.

A glance at the list of South East Asian Champions since the inaugural 1996 tournament in Singapore, the statistics will show that Thailand and Singapore have shared the honour of being champions 3 times, while Vietnam won their maiden title this year. Forget Thailand, but why can't we even be at par with at least Singapore, or Vietnam? These days we are even struggling to beat Myanmar or Laos. The only notable mention for our country was being in the Final in the first edition in 1996, when they were beaten 1-0 by Thailand. Besides that, it had been a tourney to forget, year after year. All we get is false hopes, prior to the start of a tournament, and excuses, after bowing out one.

I don't think as a layman I should propose anything. We have lots of capable and smart people out there already. It isn't rocket science. I believe we have enough pool of talents throughout the country, that can bring Malaysia to higher standards. It's just how the talent scouting works. Then comes the hard part, the management system which has to go deep down to the grassroots, at every level, every states, age-groups, clubs, affiliates. Forget the FIFA Rankings, forget the furore, forget the Asian Cup 2007, forget the match-fixing debacle, forget our golden history, just forget everything else, concentrate, focus on the essentials, put everything right, and move on.

I remember a friend who asked why do I still follow Malaysian football although they never do well. Well, Malaysia is our country right?

Year Winners Runners-up
1996 Thailand Malaysia
1998 Singapore Vietnam
2000 Thailand Indonesia
2002 Thailand Indonesia
2004 Singapore Indonesia
2007 Singapore Thailand
2008 Vietnam Thailand

List of South East Asian football champions since 1996

P/S: It's embarrassing actually to see NIKE adverts portraying our players everywhere. "Shirt On, Fear Off". Just not worth it. RM259?! Maybe we should just stick to Line 7.

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