Friday, May 9, 2008
A milestone for Sathia
National football chief coach B. Sathianathan is 50 today.
Kedah striker Khyril Muhymeen Zambri is 21.
My mum who passed away in 1994, would have been 65 today.
Sathianathan and I go a long way back, ever since he checked into Wisma FAM as an assistant coach in 1992, if I'm not mistaken.
Both Sathianathan and I agreed to disagree on many issues pertaining to the state of our football is in - ranging from how the team is selected, whether or not there was favouritism, the overall structure and the like.
We toured Japan to study the Japanese way in 1999, listening intently to the Japanese FA's disclosure that they had copied our development programme in 1980, and I shared his deep disappointment when Allan Harris' boys missed out on the gold medal in the 2001 SEA Games at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Sathianathan too bore witness to an incident which I'm embarrassed to recall at the Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2001.
On our way back to Kuala Lumpur after another failed mission at the pre-World Cup qualifiers in Doha, Harris and I almost came to blows after a slight misunderstanding at the airport.
I could have probably gotten a red eye if not for the quick intervention of Datuk Dell Akbar Khan and Datuk Jamaluddin Khalid, now deputy director of The Internal Security and Public Order Department.
Sathianathan needs little reminding how temperamental Harris can be. But Harris and I in general enjoyed a very cordial and professional relationship.
I liked to ask him about his days at the Nou Camp, asking him to recall the adrenaline-pumping excitement of having to deal with egostitical megastars such as Diego Maradona and Bernd Schuster or his reputation as someone who hanged on to Terry Venables' coat-tails.
When my wife was down with an illness and having had to be in and out of hospital in 2004, Harris would call me to check on her.
Sathia was surely Harris' most trusted lieutenant.
Coach, happy 50th birthday and many happy returns.
"I want to guide Malaysia to the AFF Cup final in December," said Sathianathan who is throwing a party tonight.
Tonight is also a special occasion because his daughter Sheena Rubita Nair is getting engaged to an Aussie, Robert Duff, who bears a slight resemblance to Wayne Rooney (according to Sathia lah).