The year - 1980. The venue - Merdeka Stadium.
The stars - most of the cast in the Malaysian all-yellow strip, Chow Chee Keong being recalled from his Hong Kong stint, Soh Chin Aun's socks rolled down to his ankles and Santokh Singh's banana free-kicks with the outstep of his boots.
The outcome - Malaysia losing 2-1 to Morocco in the final.
It was my first Pestabola Merdeka. My late Ayah took me to the stadium knowing that I was old enough to remember, and young enough to get excited by the thrill of being part of "live" matches. For the final, we got a seat right behind the Malaysian goal. Those days I used to watch matches at the stadium and then read the match reports in the New Straits Times the following day. For the best action pictures in colour, one had to wait a little longer for the next issue of Dunia Sukan, a monthly sports magazine produced by the Utusan group.
Malaysia Cup and Pestabola Merdeka were the two tournaments that mattered most during the pre-internet, cable TV days. Both (the tournaments I mean), I must admit, have lost their lustre. The urban community seems engrossed and obsessed with the English Premiership and have little time for domestic football.
I don't blame them. But save that for later.
The 40th edition of the Merdeka Tournament kicks off Wednesday. Afghanistan, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Malaysia form Group A while Group B comprises Vietnam, Myanmar, Mozambique and Bangladesh.
Read Malaysian coach B. Sathianathan's aspirations here