Monday, October 13, 2008

Merdeka Tournament, what does it mean to you?

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

11 comments:

kajang-today said...

from mixing it with the big boys, now we are fighting for the cup with those who served Malaysia as watchmen(nepal), petrol pump attendant(bangladesh), carpet merchant on bikes(pakistan) and those african boys selling wares around kotaraya area.
got class meh?
This clearly shows the sharp decline of M'sian football. Or is it the standard of M'sian living?
Maybe it's the brilliance of the organiser that they hope to fill up the stadia with those foreigners hoping to catch a glimpse of their local hero?
Anyway, good luck M'sia. Mokhtar and Aru must be sad to witness this if they're still alive today.

Arnaz M. Khairul said...

Ahh... Don't forget Arena Bolasepak.

But this is sad.. I was hoping to see the likes of Timor Leste, Guam, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea..
But still the likes of Afghanistan, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Bangladesh will do for now.
Mozambique, I should say, must never be underestimated. They produced one of the greats - Eusebio. Their best players cut their teeth in Portugal and most of the time end up playing for their colonial masters, just like Eusebio.
Sierra Leone, I believe they have an up and coming young goalkeeper playing in the French League and a string of others in the youth teams spread over Italy, France and England. I'd say, unless "Dr. Fix-It" plays his cards, Mozambique and Sierra Leone are the ones to watch.
Ahh!! Vietnam! They've got Thing Khuong Lao in L'OM's u-19 squad. The most exciting Asian player in the making. Do u think he'll be coming?
Who needs Thailand and Indonesia!!

kajang-today said...

bro, it's not just urban comm who are engrossed in EPL. Folks in my kampung, KKB also watch them la.Even eateries there also using large screen to woo customers. Talking about marketing tools.
I've been to Tumpat on 0803, the polling day and guess what a restaurant there dished out. It wasn't RTM for poll results, it was Liverpool against Newcastle. Yes, Tumpat, so called backwaters of M'sia.
It's not just urban things la, it's a worldwide phenomenon, city and kampung alike.

Car Boots said...

I remember the Morocco game.

The only other games that meant more to me as a kid those days were Selangor's Msia Cup games at Merdeka Stadium.

Unbeatable atmosphere.
Still gives me the goosebumps thinking about it.

Arnaz M. Khairul said...

Yup car boots, the atmosphere. Sometimes it was like going to war. The stomping that made the entire VI Stand vibrate, the non-stop chanting.... God save any Singapore fan who strayed into vicinity.

Anonymous said...

The Merdeka Tournament played a big role in forging the Asian Football Confederation through the years.

Its time for a new AFC President...now is a good time
as it looks like AFC is trying to
takeover FIFA. Funny but ture.

Goodbye AFC...astalavista baby.


For the Game. For the World.

Anonymous said...

The Merdeka Tournament played a big role in forging the Asian Football Confederation through the years.

Its time for a new AFC President...now is a good time
as it looks like AFC is trying to
takeover FIFA. Funny BUT TRUE.

Goodbye AFC...astalavista baby.


For the Game. For the World.

Anonymous said...

The Merdeka Tournament played a big role in forging the Asian Football Confederation through the years.

Its time for a new AFC President...now is a good time
as it looks like AFC is trying to
takeover FIFA. Funny BUT TRUE.

Goodbye AFC...astalavista baby.


For the Game. For the World.

My Raison D'etre said...

Rizal,
My last live local match was Kedah versus Kl (can't remember what year) and what a match it was.

Only a few foreigners back then and KL was still a force.

Kedah (State I was born in) won, though so it was worth it.

PS: My parents house in a few kilometers away in Kampung Baru.
Tak jauh sangat la... :)

MetroSports said...

Tahun lepas kamu pegawai media, tahun tak ada duit masuk ke....kalau tak tahu buat kerja jangan ambil saja .... kamu buatlah kerja blogging ini lebih baik...

Amir said...

A lot ....

I was at the Merdeka Stadium 13th December 1987 watching Malaysia vs Denmark Club Side when my wife went in to labour for my first child. ;-)

Abu 'Aisyah