Sunday, January 2, 2011

Conversations with Raja

Loose cannon: Hello, coach!


K. Rajagobal: Yes,


LC: Coach congratulations...


Raja: Yes, yes congratulations for putting Muslim Ahmad in defence...


LC: Eh, urrr...


Raja: Yes, I have been keeping tabs on what you say on Kafe Sukan, while talking to Datuk Zol...on putting young players...


LC: Oh yes of course la coach, you know...

Raja: Yes, yes I know, but how many times I've told you...that it takes time to build a team...but critics like you don't understand...you must make people understand, that young players take time to mature...and that we must trust them...

LC: Ok, coach, yes I understand...so coach the producers of Kafe Sukan wish to have you appear on the show Monday la..

Raja: No lah...you know Rizal, it has been a long year...I wish to spend time with my family...

LC: But I remember watching you on TV, semua channel you ada...after winning the SEA Games last year...

Raja: No lah, I only appeared on Astro Awani's In Person...

LC: Come on lah coach, Astro Arena had been wanting to have you on their shows Kafe Sukan and Formasi for a long time...

Raja: Ya la, but you know I've been very busy throughout the year...

LC: Come on la coach...

Raja: No la Rizal...

LC: Come on la coach, you sudah menang pun susah mau keluar...bukan selalu coach...we pay tribute to you...you can refute what I say...

Raja: Ya ya, I always refute you...

LC: Ok coach, Monday

Raja: You call me Sunday la...

LC: Ok coach, don't switch off your handphone ahh

LC: So coach, how was it - being taken to the stadium in an armoured car?

Raja: Terrible...this is war, I said...nowhere in the world this can happen la...I blame the organisers, the Indonesian football federation for not providing adequate protection to our team...when we were taken to the stadium, it was so hot, there was no air-cond, I felt it was done on purpose to unsettle the team, tapi bila balik sejuk...

LC: How long after the game that you were brought safely back to the hotel?

Raja: I guess close to three hours...

LC: When was the turning point for the team, coach?

Raja: When we lost the first game, I told the players look here, we remain a good team, we lost because of individual errors...

LC: You put in Khairul Fahmi for the second game...

Raja: Yes Sharbinee was not made the scapegoat but I knew Fahmi had a good outing in the Asian Games, and their standard is almost the same...it was the same in Vientiane, when Sharbinee gave an excellent performance after taking over from first choice Farizal Marlias...so Fahmi took his chance well...

LC: Thailand...

Raja: Thailand is the best team in the region...but I realised Bryan Robson made a strange decision of not fielding his best line-up for the first game...every player needs to play in order to gain momentum...I knew we had a chance of a positive result...yes they kept coming onto us and we had our chances as well, in the end it was the turning point...

LC: How do you see the win?

Raja: You tell me, did our legends, if we continue talking about the past, win before a huge crowd of 100,000 inside the stadium, with 50,000 waiting outside? Can you understand the intense pressure the boys had to go through? I really thought it was a nightmare, so scary to be in such a situation...with the players being harassed everywhere we went...

LC: What went through your mind when Indonesia was awarded the penalty?

Raja: We were expecting it but it came too early...of course I was worried, in Bukit Jalil we scored three goals in 12 minutes, they could do the same in Jakarta...but on the two occasions I saw Firman Utina sending his penalty to the left of the keeper, so I told Fahmi to cover the angle...so what he told the papers, it was true...

LC: Coach you know about the Tabung Akujanji?

Raja: Ha ya, wah thank you, thank you, you are also contributing...but the coach also gets ah?

LC: Of course coach, 22 players plus 10 officials...

Raja: Wah fantastic bombastic...OK you tell Khawari (SAM) president, if tak cukup I also can contribute...

LC: haahahahahaha

LC: Coach, how are you going to manage this success?

Raja: It's not up to me alone, you know me Rizal, I pick players on merit...those who perform will always be given a chance...but in order to progress, we have to get everybody working on the same page..if the development programme by FAM and other government agencies is showing the desired results, it should be implemented at a smaller scale at the grassroots...of course at the national level, I'm happy to have a bigger pool of players to select from...around 30 or 40 players who are equally good and this can only be a positive sign for the national team. In Jakarta, Rizal, I saw how their media instigated and created a frenzy in rooting for their team, imagine despite having a 3-0 deficit, they were supportive of their team all the way, we do not have this kind of support in Malaysia...critics like you always question...


LC: Coach betul ka you kena ludah? I spoke to a few witnesses...

Raja: Ya ka, I thought it was only water...ya la, that's why I said we were not given adequate protection, you know la, what was important was the fact we won despite having to go through all these...

LC: Coach, wah the white shirt lucky charm for you la...

Raja: Yes you know, I like to dress well, I have a collection I bought from British India...I started wearing white after the two matches against Manchester United (July 2009)...but maybe starting 2011 I might wear different colours hahahaha

LC: Coach, what is your stand on players like Brendan Gan (Australian born of Malaysian descent) being given the chance to be selected?

Raja: I'm open to the idea, if you have relatives, sons, nephews who are studying in the UK, Australia, if they play and they think they have the capacity, come, study the national team calendar, because we don't train everyday, come for trials and as long as they prove they are better than the players I have now who have offered blood, sweat and tears, they have a chance...

LC: You have a four-year plan for the team...was winning the Suzuki Cup this year part of the plan?

Raja: Yes to qualify for the Asian Cup 2015 on merit...honestly speaking, my target for the Suzuki Cup was to advance to the last four. Looking at the draw, Thailand and Indonesia were the favourites but I knew we stood a chance of creating an upset...fortunately lady luck smiled on us.

LC: Plans for 2011?

Raja: We must play an A international match at least once every month, and we have the friendly with Hong Kong in February and the World Cup qualifiers in June, followed by the match against Chelsea. The World Cup I think is a station too far, we cannot harbour hopes of advancing beyond the first round realistically speaking...

LC: I heard Air Panas, Setapak will be having a party to celebrate?

Raja: Really ah, I don't know...but I'm visiting my mum, Danaletchumi, who is 75...I'm sure she's proud of her fifth child...

LC: What about your dad?

Raja: Oh he passed away when I was only two...ah that's why you don't know history...he suffered a heart attack...he was in his 40s...

LC: Sorry to hear that...what was his occupation?

Raja: He was a bus driver with Len Seng...

LC: Oh I selalu naik bas tu dulu coach, in the 70s, hijau merah..

Raja: According to my mum, my dad was quite a taikor, everybody knew him...hahahaha

LC: Ya and you have many friends from Air Panas who played for Hotspurs kan?

Raja: Ya la you know Subramaniam, Nallathamby, Updesh and Avtar Singh (hockey players) and Santokh Singh was my neighbour...that's why you don't know your history...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

good piece of writing there mate. RG clearly remember how critical u were, i also remember when u gave the boys no chance during sea games last year which later u apologized before the final's kick off. fair play or play safe eh?
the media simply need to get rid of this "bila menang dilambung, bila kalah digantung" attitude mate.

here are some suggestions i reckon u should be asking or critical of ;

1. where were all these people who suddenly became local football experts before the AFF cup? did they wear red during man utd's visit last year?

2. where is this "harimau malaysia" nonsense coming from? don't we have legends and traditions before the triumph?

3. are we a nation of hypocrites or just plain stupid?

cheers!
davd, KLC

Anonymous said...

Tahniah kepada Coach Raja, kerana selepas sekian lama bola kita bernafas kembali. Coach Raja memang hebat dari segi pemilihan pemain & game taktikal.

Kepada FAM, sekarang terpulang kepada anda samaada mutu bola kita akan meningkat atau merudum kembali? Coach,Manager & Player dah hebat, cuma nak tengok FAM hebat ke tidak?

Coach Raja teruskan usaha kamu untuk mencari player baru, saya pasti ramai lagi pemain diluar sana yang hebat tapi tidak diberikan peluang dipentas yang besar. Brendan Gan & Titus ada peluang ke?

Firdaus said...

Great article:

In my humble opinion the best reward for the team is an overseas playing trip (tour). It will serve as a training, exposure and holiday as a reward for their hardwork. They cant be complacent and need to strive for more glory which they are capable of. The more quality matches they play together the better.

cae said...

Tahniah RG. Apa2 pun saya suka entry ni.. :) Tks Rizal.

Anonymous said...

FAM should let Harimau Muda Play n Training outside Malaysia..
Jgn biar national team lain setapak maju dari kita... Jgn Marah pada penyokong bila ade yang salahkan FAM bila bdk2 harimau muda tak berMAYA n tak SETARAF ASIA dalam masa 4 thn lagi...

akram kun said...

tahniah coach raja atas kejayaan memenangi piala Suzuki AFF..saya rase coach raja memang 'the special one'..semenjak membimbing pasukan kelantan dulu lagi coach raja sudah menunjukkan kebolehan beliau..tahniah sekali lagi..

Anonymous said...

salute to mr rajagobal..what an outstanding achievement to have him as our national coach. well done coach!...and thank you sir for all your hardwork!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the stupid question. What is the best search engine http://google.com or http://yahoo.com?