Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Front page of The Malay Mail, exactly 10 years ago

Exactly a decade ago, my story hit the front page of the Malay Mail. The old Malay Mail. The paper that was owned by the New Straits Times.

To those who do not understand English, go ahead and use google translate. Easy life eh.

FOOTBALL in Malaysia is at its lowest ebb.

Never before have Malaysia been ranked as low as 146 in the FIFA world rankings, raising the roof of the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Compounding matters is the game's domestic guardians, the FA of Malaysia (FAM), who are apparently in crisis.

They were asked to resign en bloc by Kalabakan Member of Parliament, Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh yesterday.

It is learnt a big pow-wow is scheduled soon to resolve a power struggle involving the key players in the FAM secretariat in Kelana Jaya.

Allegations of kickbacks, lack of transparency and favouritism within the headquarters have been circulating in football fraternity, threatening to derail Malaysia's effort of climbing to a respectable standing in the eyes of the world.

It is learnt FAM are split into two camps with both sides trying to oust each other.

FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, however, denied any knowledge of a leadership crisis or moves to remove the top brass.

"Honestly, that's news to me. Further more I've been away (for the World Cup)," Tengku Abdullah told Mailsport last night.

FAM general secretary Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad could not be reached for comment as he is with the national Under-20 team, who are competing in a youth tournament in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Yesterday, Abdul Ghapur who was a former Sabah FA president, caused an uproar when he challenged FAM's office-bearers to resign en bloc after Youth and Sports Ministry parliamentary secretary S.A. Vigneswaran told the House that Malaysia were 146th in the world football ranking.

"I am challenging FAM officials from the top to the bottom to quit en bloc. We hand over FAM (management) to MyTeam, maybe there'll be some hope," he said, to the thumping of the table by some Members of Parliament in support of the challenge.

MyTeam are a private initiative to unearth new football talents under a reality programme.

Abdul Ghapur added 30 years given to FAM to revive the glorious days of Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat and Mokhtar Dahari were too long.

Malaysia's best ever placing was 75th when the FIFA rankings were introduced in August 1993.

The team have never quite recovered from the Chiangmai SEA Games debacle in 1995 when Malaysia dropped to 112th.

Since then, Malaysia have hovered around the 100-120 bracket.

The only time Malaysia managed to sneak into the top 100 was October 2003, at 99th.

During question time, Vigneswaran said, while the Ministry were disappointed with the drastic drop of standards, he denied the FAM leadership did not work hard to improve the situation, pointing out that the Malaysian Under-20 team had qualified for the Asian Youth Championship to be held in India in October.

Responding to Abdul Ghapur's attack, Larut MP Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar who is a vice-president of FAM, said the country ought to open her doors to highly talented foreigners to become naturalised citizens.

"If we study the make-up of several European nations in the recently concluded World Cup, they were either naturalised citizens or children of immigrants.

"In this era of globalisation, perhaps this is the way forward," said Raja Ahmad, adding that the National Sports Council (NSC) had granted citizenship to race walker Yuan Yufang, shooter Irina Maharani and weightlifter Hidayat Hamidon prior to the Commonwealth Games in 1998.

MM says: Abdul Ghapur's stint as the Sabah FA president in 94-95 ought to enlighten him on the challenges facing Malaysian football. As such, is there any agenda behind his remarks?

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