Friday, July 31, 2009

RIP, Sir Bobby

It was in 2003 that I had the good fortune of meeting Sir Bobby Robson in the flesh. Weeks earlier I was given the opportunity to talk to him in a teleconference call ahead of the FA Premier League Asia Cup.

"Nobody wants to lose. We are going to have a crack at the title. Everybody is shaping up well for the tournament. You can expect us to play the full squad. It comes a bit too early for us in the pre-season but we will be facing quality opponents which will serve us well for the upcoming season.

"Yes I do remember the 1978 trip. I had just lifted the FA Cup with Ipswich Town when the FA asked me to take the England B side to KualaLumpur. We drew 1-1, I can't recall how the match went exactly but it was held under conditions which we were not accustomed to. And Malaysia scored through a long-range effort if I'm not mistaken."

Malaysians remember the match for the late Mokhtar Dahari's strike which flew past Manchester City keeper Joe Corrigan after his surging run took him past Nottingham Forest's David Needham and Liverpool leftback Alan Kennedy at Merdeka Stadium.

The 2003 trip was to be his last. Sir Bobby has passed on. Read here

Read Lazarus Rokk's piece in 2003.

SO, Sir Bobby Robson is back in town after 25 years. For some strange reason, for me at least, his return to our shores as the Newcastle United manager, has flung me back in time into that era of Malaysian football when it was so much easier being proud to be a Malaysian.

The year was 1978. Robson who was then manager of Ipswich, had made his first visit to Malaysia as the England B manager. To me, a fledgling sportswriter then, the white-haired statesman was not who I had wanted to meet.

My sights were trained on his mecurial left winger, Gordon Hill, who shared a common bond with me - Manchester United. But I came away from that Press conference at the Bunga Raya Lounge at the old airport in Subang, compelled to remember Robson for what I thought then as a rebellious 23-year-old, a condescending remark which seemed to epitomise the arrogance of the English. Totally unaware of the Malaysian sensitivities, Robson asked the Malaysian corp at the start of that Press conference upon his arrival, if we understood English.

While most of us were angry but too shocked to retaliate, the New Straits Times senior soccer writer then, P'ng Hong Kwang with a cool head stood up and said: "For the little English we know, I am sure we will get along just fine."

As for me, in only my third year in the job and choking with anger, all I could do was mutter under my breath: "I don't know about our English, but I sure as hell wish we will kick your pompous backsides in football."

But for that little tacky remark, Robson turned out to be a warm and friendly person, never failing to oblige us with some good quotes and lighting up conversations with his sense of humour.

And yes, we kicked their backsides in football, the right boot of the late Mokhtar Dahari denting English pride with a well-struck blow to the top corner post past the intimidating Joe Corrigan to cancel out PaulMariner's lead in what was an epic 1-1 draw that has since made time stand still for Malaysian football.

Robson was so impressed with that strike and his game, that he even offered Mokhtar a striker's role with Ipswich. Many felt Mokhtar could have changed the face of Malaysian football had he taken the job. But I guess we will never know now, would we? Still, Robson must have left puzzled, but impressed with our football from a nation who until then he must have thought spoke little or no English, and walked around in loin cloth.

Now, 25 years later, as English football's elderly statesman revisits Malaysia, he probably believes we speak English better than the Queen, and our football must have improved by leaps and bounds. He has yet to see our football, but he would have had a taste of our English since he arrived on Monday. But what I know is, he must be impressed by the great strides Malaysia has taken as a progressive nation. But from Friday, he will come face to face with our football, and I wish I could say with that kind of gumption of 1978, that we will kick their backsides again. If only Mokhtar, and goalkeeper R.Arumugam were alive. If only Soh Chin Aun, M. Chandran, Santokh Singh, Yip Chee Keong, Wong Choon Wah, Shukor Salleh, Isa Bakar, and Reduan Abdullah were still playing, there would have been more optimism. But sad to say, while the rest of the nation went forward, as the buildings got taller and more intimidating, our English got bad, I got bald, and our football got even worse.

The football got so bad that apart from the players, their coaches and the FA of Malaysia, I doubt there is anyone else who can name the starting 11 of the national team today. But ask any football-loving kid to name players from Manchester United, Arsenal, or Liverpool, and he will rattle them off without blinking an eyelid. As for me, losing hair over our English and our football didn't turn out to be too bad, as thankfully clean shaven heads are in fashion now, and the women just love it.

Poll on thrashing

For those who could not stomach the national hockey team's 11-3 defeat to Australia, participate in this

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Coaching referees

I did not know my late Ayah was a football referee until I came across a picture of him as the man in black in a group photo. Though it was years before I became a journo, I could instantly pick out one familiar face in that picture - Datuk Peter Velappan.

"Eh ini gambar Peter Velappan, AFC secretary ni Ayah," I told Ayah.

"Ye ke?" he responded.

"Game kat mana ni?"

"Dekat estet...Ayah pun tak ingat."

It's a shame I did not keep that picture. Velappan, of course, went on to become one of the most respected figures in world football. Ayah was a grade 3 referee and did not pursue his footballing interests. He cut his teeth alongside Othman Kamaluddin or better known among the refs as OK.
Becoming a referee is not an easy task. While it is one area one can pursue a career with, to reach the top of the profession takes a lot of hard work. And a thick skin. Ask Tan Sri Zain Hashim, T. Nadarajan, S. Kathrivale, Datuk George Joseph, Kol Kamaruddin Sakhari, the late Mohd Nazri Abdullah, Steven Ovinis and Othman Omar, just to name a few.

So I salute teachuhman's relentless effort to coach referees, read here. I hope they would one day reach the top.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mayhem in Mannheim


Mannheim, a place in Germany that has a footy club called Waldhof. The name will instantly click with football purists or those who used to follow Football Made In Germany in the 70s and 80s. But football is not the issue here.

A group of Malaysian track and field starlets currently based in Mannheim claim they are tightening their belts due to budget constraints. The insufficient funds have clearly left a negative impact on their performance.

When I asked Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) vice-president Karim Ibrahim about it, he said the national body had asked the National Sports Council a budget of 23,000euros to finance the trip but the government agency had only approved 80 percent of the sum.

NSC's international preparations chief, Arrifin Ghani, responded by saying said the budget was approved on the basis of MAAU's costing of 65euros per head from July 10 to Aug 8.

There's one particular chap of Arab descent who is supposedly co-ordinating the programme in Mannheim.

Now can the authorities tell me who is Khalid Al Qawati?

The athletes pitching their tent in Mannheim in their bid to qualify for the World Championship in Berlin next month are quartermiler Zaiful Zainal Abidin, hammer thrower Tan Song Hwa, middle-distance specialist Jironi Riduan, hurdlers Rayzamshah Sofian and Noraseela Mohd Khalid.

Good luck, Jaap

Three players turned up for the trials. A bad start indeed for Dutchman Jaap Suyk, Kuala Lumpur's newly-appointed coach for the hockey Razak Cup tournament starting Aug 14. Read here. Jaap has had his fair share of disappointments since uprooting himself and his wife, Rita, from the land of Johan Cruyff and Floris Jan Bovelander to the land of Mirnawan Nawawi and Mokhtar Dahari but his enthusiasm for the game of hockey is second to none. Jaap will have Kuala Lumpur's tradition as a powerhouse in the game to hang on.

Fairuz's fizz

I hope genuine success does not elude F1 aspirant, Fairuz Fauzy, who looks forward to another memorable weekend outing, this time in Portimao, Portugal.

Having missed the podium by a couple of seconds at the World Series by Renault Formula 3.5 in Le Mans two weeks ago, Fairuz, currently fifth in the overall standings, is hoping his familiarity with the Algarve circuit would boost his chances. For a blow-by-blow account of his exploits in Le Mans, read here and here. We certainly hope Fairuz's fizz will not fizzle out...

The pride of team MOFAZfortec and Malaysia

can you imagine overtaking at high speed, as Fairuz (in the background) did at Le Mans, with Russia's Daniil Yuryevich Move being the victim

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Polls on hockey

Should the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) amend its constitution to allow other organisations to contribute to the sport's betterment? Gandhi from voice-in-sports is conducting a poll here. Dutchman Jaap Suyk, who runs without much support from the relevant parties, ran a poll at his website whether should write their point of view on Asian hockey...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Welcome Khawari

My ex-colleague at Berita Harian, Ahmad Khawari Isa, who is known to be hard-hitting in his opinion pieces, has joined the blogosphere. He calls his blog "As I see it, plain and simple". But knowing Khawari, nothing will be plain and simple from his perspective. Read here. As a practising journalist in the mainstream media, Khawari's entry into the "underworld" is highly anticipated.

Rallying behind the Flying Sikh

New car, little budget. Arguably the continent's most successful rally motorsport driver, Karamjit Singh is excited with the prospect of driving the Proton Satria Neo Super 2000 in the upcoming FIA APRC Asia Cup which will be contested through three countries, Malaysia (Aug 14-16), Indonesia (Oct 2-4) and China (Nov 13-15).

But he has a problem. Karamjit is short of cash. He is now seeking advertising and promotional budgets to cover the cost of his personal equipment, travel expenses, hotel accommodation and professional fee to secure this drive.

Karamjit and his team are offering limited livery and advertising space on the competition car and his personal driving attire to corporations in return for a small advertising budget investment.

Partners, according to Karamjit and his team, will substantially benefit from the media publicity that this professional team will undeniably garner.

As such, Karamjit is offering a partnership plan to suit any marketing budget or advertising strategy and invites corporations to forge an alliance as associate partners to enable him to compete in the Asia Cup.

Sponsorship amount required is as follows:
Rally Malaysia RM 80,000
Rally Indonesia RM 100,000
Rally China RM 120,000
Total amount required
RM 300,000

Automotive expert Paul Tan has written quite extensively on Karamjit and his difficulties in sourcing for sponsorship. Read here and here

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Malaysia v ManYoo - a review

The Red Devils' starting line-up on Saturday

Quite a number of Malaysians were wearing the yellow and black...leading the way were the guys from

Read theDaily Mail report, ESPN Star report and as well The Star report of last night's rematch.

Surely one of the talking points remains Amri Yahyah' stupendous goal on Saturday. The 28-year old from Tanjung Karang deserved the kudos for his two goals.

A reserve in the 2001 SEA Games squad but figured highly in Bertalan Bicskei's team in 2004-2005, Amri has proven time and again that he's a man for the big occasion.

Though he was slapped with a six-month ban for spitting in a pre-World Cup match against Kuwait not long after scoring the equaliser in November 2004, Amri featured as a highly mobile attacker in the AFF Cup the following month, scoring two goals and registering five assists as well as winning two penalties.

Selangor fans still cherish Amri's contributions in producing the winning goal in the 2002 FA Cup final, and again a remarkable equaliser in April's FA Cup final against Kelantan by slipping behind the defence to convert a header just inches from the ground.

Hours after the match on Saturday, I went on TV1's Wisel Penamat with former Selangor right-back, Ismail Ibrahim, who played against ManU in 1995, and comperes, Izwan Mohd Nor and Hafizal Hamad.

I wanted to emphasise that one swallow does not make a summer. "ManU was in pre-season mode and the ultimate aim of Rajagobal's team was the Laos SEA Games. What's important is that the team continue to rectify the mistakes and improve."

"It was refreshing to see Safiq Rahim and Amar Rohidan - both members of Rajagobal's Under-20 squad in 2004-2006 - running the engine room. Shukor Adan, a mainstay between 2001 and 2008 - may have provided the leadership but lacked the distribution of Safiq, Amar, K. Gurusamy and Bunyamin Umar. If Safiq is known of his trickery, Amar, Gurusamy and Bunyamin prefer the neat and precise game."

Ismail pointed out Safiq was the team's fittest individual, a crucial component in manning the middle of the park.

Regular caller, Kamal Ganesan of Sungai Buloh, remained a skeptic. "Don't harbour false hopes".

ManYoo for the 2009/10 season

Nani will fill in the void left vacuum by Cristiano Ronaldo, as the showboater of the Red Devils. I'm not too sure whether it would be his somersaults or his goals that will register in people's minds. Owen, ah, Liverpool fans may dub him the scum but the scum's goalscoring touch has not deserted him. For sure Fergie will count on his nose for goals, even if he's half fit. Rooney, if he manages to remain injury-free, will be ManU's most important figure. But that's stating the obvious. Like Shebby said, the team lacked the crowd-pulling effect following the departure of the Latin lovers, Ronaldo and Tevez.

If I were a PR guy...

...I would have done some research on who was the Selangor player that had the distinction of scoring against Manchester United on June 14, 1981. I would have discovered that he was K. Kanagarajah and that since his retirement, the former winger had given his life to coaching youngsters around Cheras. I would then arrange for him and his players to attend a coaching clinic held by Bryan Robson or the current United team and later give them a special pass to enter the National Stadium on Saturday. Read Tony Mariadass' interesting story here which perfectly captures the Malaysian angle which used to be Malay Mail's forte! Also despite the bombings in Jakarta, I would have advised the United delegation to go ahead with the trip to Jakarta. The Red Devils, despite being the symbol of power and success, decided to abandon their huge fan base in Jakarta. Ask in return security measures fit for presidents and change hotels. If only I were a PR guy...

The aristocrats from Pekan

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in jest, thought Malaysia would be given a 6-0 drubbing by his favourite club, Manchester United. Read Jaiho's posting here. Also read his revelation that FA of Malaysia (FAM) president Sultan Ahmad Shah was not pleased with the way Malay Mail approached its series of articles on Zimbabwe's presence for a two-match friendly with the national squad ahead of the prestigious exhibition clash with Manchester United here. The Sultan is highly tolerant of criticism, I must say, based on personal experience. I remember the Malay Mail back page calling for the Sultan and his son, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, to resign following the national team's 1-0 defeat to Laos in the Jakarta SEA Games in 1997 but the father-and-son combo did not take the writers to task. For the Sultan to pick on certain newspapers is certainly uncharacteristic of him. It could be the choice of words or insinuations by Malay Mail that have incurred his wrath. Loose cannon was told the Sultan had never been angrier...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Things you may want to know about Malaysia and Manyoo

July-Aug 1995, loose cannon a footballwriter with Berita Harian

Centreback Nidzam Jamil, Laurent Blanc's favourite bald pate and Azmin Azram Abdul Aziz after the 2001 encounter - from Nidzam's FB, without permission. Loose cannon reporting for The Malay Mail

Kamarulzaman Hassan conceded four goals against the Beckham-powered Red Devils on July 22, 2001

K. Kanagarajah has the distinction of being the only Malaysian to score against the Red Devils, netting Selangor's solitary goal on June 14, 1981. Loose cannon was with his Ayah at Merdeka Stadium

Ollerenshaw can claim to have beaten Peter Schmeichel, on July 31, 1995

Previous Manyoo's visits


Malaysia 0 Manchester United 0
United line-up: Paddy Roche, Martin Lane, Arthur Albiston, Martin Buchan, Kevin Moran, Ashley Grimes, Scott McGarvey, Garry Birtles, Joe Jordan, Lou Macari, Gary Worral.

Sabah 0 Manchester United 1 (Ashley Grimes)
United line-up: Paddy Roche, Martin Lane, Kevin Moran, Martin Buchan, Arthur Albiston, Mike Duxbury, Lou Macari, Ashley Grimes, Joe Jordan, Steve Coppell, Garry Birtles (Scott McGarvey)

Selangor 1 (K. Kanagarajah) Manchester United 4 (Joe Jordan, Steve Coppell (2), Garry Birtles)
United line-up: Gary Bailey, Martin Lane, Kevin Moran, Martin Buchan, Arthur Albiston, Mike Duxbury, Lou Macari, Ashley Grimes, Joe Jordan, Steve Coppell, Garry Birtles (Scott McGarvey).


Selangor Selection 1 (Scott Ollerenshaw) Manchester United 4 (Steve Bruce, Nicky Butt, Gary Pallister, Lee Sharpe)
United line-up: Peter Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Paul Parker (Phil Neville), Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes (David Beckham), Nicky Butt, Brian McClair, Roy Keane, Lee Sharpe.

Selangor Selection 0 Manchester United 2 (Steve Bruce, Paul Scholes)
United line-up: Peter Schmeichel (Kevin Pilkington), Paul Parker, Dennis Irwin, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Roy Keane, Brian McClair, Paul Scholes, Ben Sabruley.


Malaysia 0 Manchester United 6 (Ruud van Nistelrooy (2), David Beckham, Andy Cole (2), Luke Chadwick
United line-up: Fabien Barthez, Denis Irwin (Phil Neville), Jaap Stam, Ronny Johnsen (Wes Brown), Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs (Quinton Fortune), Juan Sebastian Veron (Paul Scholes), Roy Keane (Nicky Butt), David Beckham (Luke Chadwick), Dwight Yorke (Andy Cole), Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Ole Gunnar Solksjaer).

Friday, July 17, 2009

Jakarta's loss, KL's gain

The Manyoo juggernaut arrived safely in Kuala Lumpur today and quickly declared the Jakarta trip was cancelled following the suicide bombing at the hotel they were due to stay.

They might play a rematch with the Malaysian team on Monday. While Fergie spent around 25 minutes at the customary PC, some of the players attended the meet-the-fan session, which was restricted to guests. Rio Ferdinand and a few others had a kick about at the KLCC parking lot.

Gary Neville (his third time in Kuala Lumpur), David Gill, Fergie and Datuk Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad

Fergie, Redzuan, Julian Kam and Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad

The guys from mainstream media...

...find themselves blocked by the photographers when it came to question and answer session

That's Paddy Crerand on the left

And legendary Bobby Charlton, undisturbed

At the hotel lobby, we bumped into injury-prone former England and Manyoo skipper, Bryan Robson. That's Tonym (extreme right) and his son Alwin (on Bryan's right)

The Red Devils - in kaleidoscope

Argh, the Red Devils will descend upon our shores shortly, much to the irritation of a huge number of Malaysians, especially the tormented souls of Liverpool fans.

James Wong and Co versus Martin Buchan's buccaneers

Remember him? He scored the winner against South Korea in the 1980 Olympic qualifiers

I remember Buchan's skirmishes with his fellow Scot, Kenny Dalglish and his partnership with Gordon McQueen

Those who grew up in the 70s remember with affection Coppell's tireless runs on the right flank wearing the No 7 jersey, before the days of Kanchelskis, Beckham and Ronaldo

This chap played three matches in Malaysia in 1981

The price tag is still there...

I wonder if a genuine Red Devil my age still has this Shoot! annual. The cover has Butch wearing an adidas jersey, not sure about the club though...

A treasured gift from Kak Lin

A special issue for a football purist, regardless whether he follows Ligue Un, La Liga, Liga Malaysia, the EPL or the Bundesliga

King Eric was born the same year my late parents got married

When former New Straits Times and Malay Mail sports editor Khoo Kay Soon invited me to write an article for NST's Euro mag in 1996...

I came up with an in-depth analysis of Les Bleus' tactical formation in the absence of King Eric and how Aime Jacquet's decision to drop him would affect France's prospects...

and true enough, the French were good, but only for the semi-finals. But in hindsight, Euro96 marked the beginning of a new and exciting era for the Tricolores. I guessed because of this article, Husin Rahman and Chandra Segar Pillai persuaded me to leave Berita Harian and join the Malay Mail, which I did, in September 1996

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Betapa berapinya semangat Garuda!

Kiriman emel daripada sahabatku, Riznal.

just to share with you guys an article by my online friend from jakarta, who shares a mutual passion on jersey collecting and asean football.

this is because this Saturday we will see MU v Malaysia where sadly, if the game in 2001 if any example and with the prevailing attitude towards Malaysian football, will see more Malaysian United fans than Malaysian fans who actually support Malaysia (save for a few and the ultras from Harimau Malaya who will be seating behind the curva).

yes, there is nothing wrong with supporting your club team. but when it comes to club versus country, there should be undivided loyalty. fans pun have to do their part. setakat kutuk and take no action everyone boleh buat, thats why sampai bilaaaaaa pun suka bolasepak malaysia takkan maju.

good luck understanding colloquial Indonesian!

some notes on the words used (that I know!)

berjibaku = something like working your ass off
Timnas = Tim Nasional a.k.a Indonesian National Team
kostum = costume usually used to refer to uniform
kostum merah putih = Timnas football uniform - home colours is red and white
garuda yang gagah bertahta di dada setiap penggawa timnas = the Timnas football jersey have the garuda patch on the left chest - which is why their main chant for sports is garuda didadaku
ini kandang kita = this is our home because Indonesians often refer home and away to kandang and tandang. Ini Kandang Kita is a popular slogan for the Timnas
Gelora Bung Karno = Gelanggang Olahraga Bung Karno - main football stadium in Jakarta
Garuda DiDadaku = is also a recent Indonesian film earning rave reviews - about an 11 year old boy passionate about playing for Timnas U-12
yel - yel = chants, very common at Indonesian football matches

Suatu sore, (hampir) setahun kemarin.

Timnas Indonesia berjibaku melawan Bayern Muenchen. Benarkah berjibaku? Tepatnya hanya (seperti) seadanya meladeni sebagai tuan rumah. Indonesia kalah telak dari FC Hollywood yang nggak hollywood-hollywood amat. Waktu itu Muenchen hanya membawa Oliver Kahn, Ze Roberto, Mark Van Bommel dan Daniel van Buyten.

Entah karena terlalu menjiwai sebagai tuan rumah yang baik, Indonesia menyerah 1-5. Bintang pertandingan ini Jan Schlaudraff, pencetak hattrick.
Sapa tuh?
Saya tak akan menyalahkan Anda, para suporter setia timnas, kalau tak mengenal bintang muda Muenchen. Apalagi dengan 2 pengemas gol berikutnya: Breno Virginius dan Toni Kroos. Weh..

Bukan hasil yang dicari, tapi akhir pertandingan yang dinanti. Apakah benar? Bisa jadi. Kesempatan amat langka terpilih sebagai pemain untuk 'melayani' klub besar yang telah menjuarai Bundesliga 21 kali. Pikiran nakal bermain. Jangan-jangan penentuannya adalah berebut bertukar kostum. Memorabilia langka yang pasti gagah terpajang di sudut terelit kediaman masing-masing punggawa timnas. Itu yang jadi tujuan tersembunyi di dada tiap pemain.
Semoga pikiran nakal saya salah total.

Semisal benar adalah sungguh mengenaskan. Karena yang seharusnya mereka sandang dan jiwai adalah garuda yang gagah bertahta di dada tiap punggawa timnas. Kalah postur, defisit tingkatan skill plus minim berlaga melawan para raksasa, bukan halangan besar untuk bertarung sampai batas penghabisan.

Ingatlah kostum merah-putih yang selalu dikenakan. Ciumlah garuda ketika mengingat segala kekurangan. Niscaya, sebuah spirit akan terbit dan energi yang melejit akan membuat Muenchen lari terbirit-birit. Kalau mereka benar membela sang garuda hingga titik kemampuan terakhir, bukan hasil 1-5 yang terpampang di papan skor. Tapi, sebaliknya. Saya yakin itu!

Jangan mengingat posisi sebagai tuan rumah yang baik, maka kita harus demikian mudah mengalah pada tiap tamu. Ini kandang kita, Bung! Dan lapangan hijau Gelora Bung Karno adalah padang pertempuran yang harus kita menangkan. Apapun alasannya. Tidak bisa tidak.
Maaf kalau saya terlalu berapi-api menulis ini. Bisa jadi karena terbakar semangat sepotong musik latar film Garuda di Dadaku yang dikirim seorang kawan. Lagu yang akan selalu melesatkan semangat patriotik tiada banding di nadi para suporter setia timnas seperti saya ini.

Saya mengaku kepada kawan saya tadi. Bahwa menyanyikan lagu ini beramai-ramai dan kompak berbarengan tanpa dikomando di Gelora Bung Karno, akan menggerilya perasaan 'aneh' jika benar dihayati. Terus terang saya tak pernah selesai menyanyikan yel-yel pendek ini. Saya hanya mampu menyanyikannya di bait pertama dan selanjutnya mulut saya langsung terkunci. Kobaran semangat yang liar menyala dan tak akan pernah padam, seketika diselubungi rasa haru yang mendalam.

Perasaan yang sama --bahkan lebih hebat-- juga timbul ketika menyanyikan Indonesia Raya. Saya tak pernah memaksa menyelesaikan lagu kebangsaan kita. Diam, memejamkan mata sembari menghayati segala yang merasuki adalah jalan terbaik kalau tak ingin pecah tangis tanpa kendali.

Empati ini yang seharusnya dimiliki tiap punggawa yang terpilih membela garuda di dada masig-masing. Empati yang sama --saya pikir-- juga merasuki masing-masing personel Garuda di Dadaku. Sepotong adegan adalah metafora bagi seseorang di balik layar, yang mencitrakan gejolak keinginan diri yang bersandungan dengan ambisi orang-orang tercinta. Keputusan penting yang akan jadi pertaruhan terbesar dalam hidupnya.
Saya tak tahu adegan mana itu karena saya akui saya memang belum melihat film ini. Tapi, melalui seorang kawan yang (terlalu) mengenal satu pribadi di balik layar, fakta ini bisa muncul ke permukaan. Bahwa ia juga berjanji mengibarkan panji merah-putih dalam tiap karyanya.

Kawan tadi selanjutnya mengeluarkan wanti-wanti setengah rahasia. "Jangan pernah menyepelekan Garuda di Dadaku," bilangnya. Film ini memang untuk konsumsi anak-anak. Tapi, orang dewasa yang (tak sengaja) menonton, akan minimal sekali menangis. Paling tidak, kebat-kebit menahan rasa haru yang menyeruak. Entah kenapa.

Perasaan yang tak bisa diungkap kata-kata ini sangat mungkin sama ketika kita menyaksikan timnas Indonesia bertarung secara langsung di lapangan. Bukan lewat layar kaca.

Isaplah tiap udara patriotik di atmosfer Gelora Bung Karno dan jangan lawan semangat nasionalis dengan tingkah laku yang tak perlu. Diam. Biarkan yel-yel ini merasuki nadi dan mengobarkan spirit yang sudah lama hilang dari bumi ini. Sensasi yang tak bisa dibayangkan sebelumnya.

Tapi, apakah semuanya menjalar hingga ke dada tiap aktor terpilih di lapangan hijau? Semoga. Saya sangat berharap semuanya merasakan apa yang para suporter setia timnas rasakan.

Jadi, jangan mentang-mentang Manchester United yang datang ke Senayan dalam beberapa hari ke depan, maka Anda punya kewajiban menyuguhi mereka dengan kemenangan dan (lagi-lagi) bait kekalahan bagi kami sebagai pemain ke-12 timnas. Jangan!

Lupakan sejenak keinginan untuk bertukar kostum dengan seragam MU yang beken itu. Terlalu rendah kalau beranggapan bahwa kostum bertahtakan garuda lebih rendah kastanya ketimbang seragam asli Setan Merah.

Adalah sebuah kebanggaan bagi kami --suporter timnas-- bukan Anda yang mengangsurkan kostum pada pemain MU, tapi Wayne Rooney cs-lah yang datang menyatakan keinginannya bertukar seragam. Karena baju zirah merah putih yang Anda sekalian sandang, memang lebih keren dari yang mereka punya.

Hati kami makin berbunga kalau para pesepakbola Manchester itu mengungkapkan hal yang selama ini kami rindukan.
"Anda hebat dan kami bangga kalah dari Anda, timnas Indonesia!"

Kalau sudah begitu, ciumlah sekali lagi tahta garuda di dada Anda sembari ikhlas memberikannya pada pemain MU sebagai cenderamata yang tak akan pernah ternilai harganya.

camkan itu para punggawa Timnas

*darah terlanjur Merah Putih

Remembering DAB...

Yesterday, July 15, marked a year's passing of Kedah's football supremo Datuk Paduka Ahmad Basri Mohd Akil. We shall continue to remember his contribution as the cornerstone of Kedah's golden years in the late 80s and early 1990s.

Mohamed Ramlee thwarts Abbas Saad in the 1990 final...
But three years earlier, a defeat to Kuala Lumpur in the 1987 Malaysia Cup final became an opportunity for Kedah to bounce back

so that they could savour the scenes at Darulaman Stadium 1990

as the whole of Kedah did...

and the man largely instrumental for Kedah's golden era was Ahmad Basri (right)

No team manager has managed to lead the national team to the gold medal in the SEA Games since the 3-1 victory over Singapore 20 years ago. The coach, Trevor Hartley, the manager, Ahmad Basri. Read perginya Bapa Bola Sepak Kedah

No go for Under-18 team

The swine flu has again claimed a victim, of sorts. The National Under-18 team have been told to withdraw from the AFF U-19 Youth Championship at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Aug 4-16 by the FA of Malaysia. Read here.

Eleven players come from schools nationwide and the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) and are not allowed to go overseas following the Ministry of Education's directive. It is believed, however, FAM were slow to react and appeal to the decision, which leaves coach Ong Kim Swee with only 14 players. Kim Swee who is also handling the Under-19 team in the Premier League, has yet to assemble the Under-18 team for a single competitive match this year.

Malaysia had earlier been drawn to play hosts Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines in Ho Chi Minh.

Alex continues a proud tradition

Alex Soosay is the new Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary, as reported by S.S. Dhaliwal, here, Joe Marcose here and Christopher Raj here.

Simply known as Alex, the 48-year old was involved in the AFC Asian Cups of 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2007, and the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Championship, 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

He is the fifth Malaysian on the trot after Koe Ewe Teik, Datuk Teoh Chye Hin, Datuk Peter Velappan and Datuk Paul Mony Samuel, to serve as the chief executive officer at the secretariat. Mony though was reduced to being a COO shortly after succeeding Velappan because the executive powers lie with the president, Mr Mohamed bin Hammam Al Abdulla. It was said that Mony was reduced to signing papers at the tailend of his tenure at AFC House since Hammam has a say in almost every aspect of the daily running of the office. But I believe Alex will do well.

Alex conducted the smooth running of the AFC Congress in May, a gathering of Asia's most powerful football fiefdom which saw Hammam retaining his presidency with a slim majority over Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa. Read loose cannon's Alex to succeed Mony in December last year and Thanks Astro Awani.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fairuz Fauzy and Kayu

Our very own Malaysian driver, Fairuz Fauzy, has begun to truly show his mettle in the World Series by Renault Formula 3.5, which is according to many, the step before F1. Fairuz, including several other selected drivers, were chosen to undergo an orientation programme conducted by ING Renault's Formula 1 Team.

His efforts and performance have piqued the interest of many parties, including the famous Kayu Nasi Kandar. Ah...the smell of nasi kandar and burning rubber...Mofazfortec played hosts to VIPs at Silverstone two weeks ago by serving home-cooked cuisine courtesy of Kayu.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Love letter

M.P. Haridass has written a letter to Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar here while Latifah Ya'cob has sought an apology from OCM secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi for insinuating that she had contributed little to the betterment of sports. All because of Kok Chi's weekly highlights widely distributed following the elections. Read here

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Overcoming hurdles, as usual

More than three months ago, I highlighted the fact the men's 400m hurdles national record has yet to be ratified. Read here. If the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union is acting at a snail's pace, how do we expect our athletes to run faster?!! Come on, MAAU. Hurdling is a highly technical event. It's a tough discipline and the number of athletes active in the event is dwindling. Read here. Appreciate what we have. If they are the nation's fastest hurdlers ever, say so. Apa cerita, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim? Takkan dok meeting sana sini tapi benda ni pun tak boleh buat? Kampong betoi la hangpa semua nih...maaf, adik-beradik aku kat kampong pun lagi cekap. Datuk Seri, if you cannot cope with the responsibility, I suggest you do the honourable thing and resign. Don't spread yourself thin. It's bad for your health.

Persoalan yang tiada jawapannya

Agak lama aku tidak menulis kolum Garis Tepi di akhbar Kosmo! Adakah nama-nama seperti Wan Kuzain Kamal, Haziq Zikri Elias dan Tam Sheng Tsung satu hari kelak berupaya mengubat rindu kita terhadap kehebatan Supermokh? Bagaimana jika Supermokh merintis jalan ke luar negara dahulu? Aku ambil contoh dua pemain sebaya arwah Mokhtar, iaitu Cha Bum Keun dan Yasuhiko Okudera, yang mewarnai Bundesliga pada lewat 70-an dan awal hingga pertengahan 80-an. Klik di sini

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Zon bebas

Warga sukan sesungguhnya menyambut baik kehadiran blogger sukan dari utara tanah air yang juga wartawan akhbar arus perdana. Dia menamakan blognya zon bebas, di sini. Kita lihat sama ada ia zon bebas atau terikat!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Toon Daim

The Toon Army are bracing themselves for their beloved Newcastle United to be bought over by one of Malaysia's most influential personalities, Tun Daim Zainuddin. Is it true?

Mokhtar's legacy outlives his death

Tomorrow commomerates the 18th year of Mokhtar Dahari's death. RTM's TV1 ran a nostalgic tribute last night on Sekilas Liga, featuring rare footages of Mokhtar's trademark marauding runs culminating with goals against Arsenal (1975) and Singapore (1987). Read my tribute last year here. UPDATED Read Tony Mariadass' 15 minutes with Supermokh.

His emergence coincided with arguably the nation's most glorious decade but Mokhtar was not involved on the two occasions the team qualified for the Olympics. He was too young when Syed Ahmad Abu Bakar propelled the team to Munich in the pre-Olympics in 1971. In 1980, plagued by a knee injury and a bruised ego for unjustly being accused of matchfixing, Mokhtar was in self-imposed retirement when Hassan Sani and James Wong combined to beat South Korea and Japan in the qualifiers.

Zian Johari and S.C. Sekaran reporting for New Straits Times, 1976. Before a crowd of 55,000, Mokhtar scored twice against a Japanese side that boasted Kamamoto and Okudera on Aug 22. Mokhtar was probably at the heights of his powers then for a year later his knee went under the surgeon's knives

Back row: Azraai Khor @ Khor Sek Leng, P. Umaparam, Isa Bakar.
Middle: Irfan Bakti Abu Salim, Mokhtar, R. Arumugam, team official. Front: Zainuddin Kassim, Rashid Hassan, Yahya Jusoh

The team that beat Japan and Kamamoto and Co 2-0 in 1976 Merdeka Tournament. Mokhtar standing fourth from right

Former Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra with the squad circa 1976

Dunia Sukan, published by Utusan Malaysia, circa 1979

Though Mokhtar was considered one of the best footballers in Asia, he could have created a bigger legacy had he pursued a career overseas. I wonder how things would have turned out had he had the courage to blaze the pro trail the way his contemporaries - South Korea's Cha Bum Keun and Yasuhiko Okudera of Japan - did in the Bundesliga. Mokhtar received offers from Middle Eastern countries and greatly impressed Bobby Robson, the Ipswich manager who brought England B to Kuala Lumpur in 1978.
Yasuhiko Okudera

Cha Bum Keun

Volkswagen's sole importer, Datuk Zulkifli Ishak, a Johannian (naturally wearing green), and Bursa Malaysia CEO, Datuk Yusli Mohamed (right), like Mokhtar a Victorian, naming the trophy the Mokhtar Dahari Cup