Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Proton v AirAsia?

Team Lotus, team Proton Lotus, team 1Malaysia? Wonder what the future holds for our F1 outfit...

Read the BBC online report here and Riad Asmat's explanation here

Farewell, Matt McKeown

The wake ceremony for Matt McKeown is scheduled tomorrow, 29th September 2010 from 11am - 6pm.

Details as below:

Date: Wednesday, 29th September 2010
Time: 11am - 6pm
Venue: Room 21(Aster), 2nd Floor
Nirvana Memorial Centre,
No 1, Jalan 1/116A
Jalan Sg. Besi 57100
Kuala Lumpur

It was raining cats and dogs that day. It was my first time at Wisma Ali Bawal 2, Jalan Tandang, Petaling Jaya, which was to be Astro Arena's office-cum-studio. It did not resemble an office at all, with the office cubicles barely being set-up.

Accompanied by former cricketer and Astro Arena channel manager, Venu Ramadass, I waited for quite a while before a gentleman, soaking wet with an umbrella at hand, introduced himself.

"Finally, we get to meet!"

It was probably in September 2009 when Saniboey Mohd Ismail and approached me for a possible role in Astro Arena. I was supposed to meet Matt McKeown shortly after that but due to various commitments, our meeting was postponed a few times.

"I heard so much about you," he said.

"I hope only good things," I replied.

He told me of his plans for an issue-based talk show with a resident blogger as a permanent feature. They had not identified the host but they wanted me to be part of the show modelled after Fox Sports Australia's The Back Page which looks at big issues surrounding Aussie sports.

All I had to do was say "YES".

Matt was on a recruitment drive, head-hunting for the best sportscasters and several names were bandied about to helm Kafe Sukan, namely Zainal Abidin Rawop, Hafizal Hamad, Tabah Sazwan Othman and Akbar Sahari.

"The idea is to eventually broadcast Kafe Sukan live and have an interactive discussion in the cyberworld," he said.

I did some background search. The next time I met him weeks later, we exchanged good-natured banters.

 "Aha Matt, I didn't know you play golf. Wah not bad ah, you are member of the Australian Golf Industry Council." "So you ran a background check on me", "well, that's what journalists do".

Matt was a commentator and executive producer of rugby at Fox Sports Australia before he was lured by the challenge of pioneering a new sports channel in Malaysia.

"I'm not going to be long here, once I'm done, this will be a Malaysian channel, run by Malaysians. My job is to lay down the foundation."

When I was told of Matt's sudden demise by producer Slamet Sazly Yakub as we were recording the fourth and final segment of the latest episode of Kafe Sukan, I was shocked.

My mind harked back to the last time I met him at the Astro raya do on Thursday, when again I could not resist the temptation of teasing him, "Hey Matt, how come I was not invited by Arena for this do, I am a guest of Awani."

We shared the same dining table, with Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) general manager Maninderjit Singh and secretary Hashim Mohd Yusof, Astro Arena executive producer Darren Althofer, Sanjeev and Preman Parasmewaran of Astro Arena.

An avid golfer, Matt, 45, leaves behind a wife and three kids.

His death, apparently due to a heart attack, has left Arena without the captain of the ship. But I guess others will rise to the occasion and steer the ship to the ultimate destination, which is to encourage a culture for sports in Malaysia through the most influential medium - television.

Razlin Hanifah, live sport producer of Astro Arena, left a comment on FB.

"Can you spare 2 minutes?" he requested, and we ended up talking for more than half an hour, which is quite long than our regular "Hi & Bye" gestures. He explained about his plans for Arena and his plans for me. Those words still running in my head. And it was fated to be our last conversation last Wednesday."

Matt (right) watches intently with Venu and Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek in deep discussion, with Datuk Zolkples Embong looking on during the SAM Buka Puasa recently

Read the personal account and tribute to Matt by Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM) president, Ahmad Khawari Isa who is also AstroArena chief of staff  here

As I drove back home from AstroArena yesterday, it rained heavily, like the day I was introduced to a nice chap and fellow sports fan called Matt McKeown, almost 10 months ago.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Selamat berjaya Dato' Hamidin!

Jawatankuasa Pertandingan Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM) antara nadi penting persatuan. Pertandingan tempatan Liga M yang merangkumi Liga Super, Liga Perdana dan Piala FAM di letak di bawah pemantauan jawatankuasa ini. Kini ia dikepalai oleh Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin, naib presiden FAM yang juga setiausaha agung Persatuan Bola Sepak Selangor (FAS).

Jawatankuasa itu kini dianggotai Datuk Afandi Hamzah selaku timbalan pengerusi, Datuk Omar Osman, Abdullah Salleh, ASP Dali Wahid, Alijus Haji Sipil, Rosman Mohd Ibrahim, Zulkefly Alias, Husni Md Yusuf dan bekas penyerang Selangor dan pasukan Harimau, Azlan Johar.

Alijus Sipil

                                                          Rosman Mohd Ibrahim (kanan)

Azlan Johar

Jadual Liga Super maknanya di bawah pengawasan jawatankuasa ini. Rabu dan Khamis ini, satu sesi sumbang saran akan diadakan bagi membincangkan antara lain jadual padat dan pengambilan pemain import.  

Dua tahun lalu, Datuk Che Mat Jusoh mempengerusikan sesi sumbang saran juga. Antara ketetapan yang diambil - tutup pintu kepada pemain import untuk jimat kos.

Kali ini buka balik pintu kepada pemain asing. Harapnya sesi sumbang saran kali ini akan menelurkan resolusi yang boleh bertahan lebih 10 tahun demi kepentingan bola sepak tempatan.

Syabas Jam!

"Hah, hari ni kau nak perkenalkan perkataan apa pulak?" suara sinisnya menyedarkan aku daripada lamunan.

"Kau kalau tulis berbunga-bunga, macam Khawari, aku tak faham lah!"

Jawabku: "Kita penulis kena didik pembaca kita."

Begitulah antara senda gurau aku dengan Jamhariah Jaafar, senior aku kat Berita Harian yang Khamis lalu menerima anugerah wartawan sukan Majlis Olimpik Malaysia (MOM). Baca sini

Ketika membuat liputan di Sukan Asia di Hiroshima pada 1994, Jamhariah sesekali terpaksa mengirim berita menerusi telefon. Akulah antara yang mengetuk story sambil gagang di telinga.

Aktif dalam memulihara alam sekitar, khususnya terumbu karang menerusi CoRal Malaysia yang diasaskannya sendiri, Jamhariah berjuang mengikut caranya sendiri.

Kini penulis politik yang dari dulu tidak takut menyuarakan pendapat. Orang macam Jam ni susah nak kontrol tapi harus jadi senjata jika pandai menggunakannya.

Ketika muncul dalam rancangan Vantage Point

Yang diacarakan oleh Mano Maniam. Panel undangan Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan. Topiknya, hala tuju sukan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tunku Majid making a comeback?

Come Oct 30, Tunku Abdul Majid Idris Sultan Iskandar could well be making a comeback to the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF).

A few State HAs are toying with the idea of nominating the Johor prince who served as deputy president of MHF from December 2006 to October 2008 for the No 2 post. The incumbent deputy president is Nur Azmi Ahmad.

Azmi beat Tunku Majid by a 12-vote margin in the last elections which saw the latter's brother-in-law Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah being installed as the ninth MHF president after George Oehlers, E.B. David, Herman de Souza, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Tun Hussein Onn, Sultan Azlan Shah, Raja Nazrin Shah and Tan Sri Anwar Mohd Nor.

The incumbent vice-presidents are Datuk Dr S.S. Cheema, Datuk Rahim Ariff, Datuk Sri Che Khalib Mohamed Noh and M. Gobinathan.

The term of office-bearers will be four years now since the proposals to the amendments pertaining to the appointments of secretary, treasurer and the term of office were accepted unanimously in MHF's EGM recently.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Abbas and Barnes in a 4-4-2 line-up

Abbas Saad and Peter Barnes joining forces?

Picture this scenario - Barnes receives a pass near the byline, slaloms past two defenders, plays a one-two with Abbas. This sets up Barnes nicely for a one-to-one situation but the opposing keeper is quick to smother the winger's effort. Latching on to the loose ball, Abbas finds the net! And voila...Johor lifting the AFC Champions League title...

Peter Barnes' forays on the flanks was a joy to watch in the 70s and early 80s...

That's Abbas seated extreme right. This was a complete team, with two playmakers Khalid Shahdan and Nasir Yusof supplying the ammunition for Alistair Edwards and Abbas and of course Ervin Boban! The supremo was Datuk Suleiman Mohd Noor (standing left).

In reality, they have joined forces, swapping the sweat-laden jerseys for a tie and blazer...

Lee Choong Khay, Head of Sports Business; Abbas Saad, ex-Australia international and Johor legend; Jason Dasey, Host/Executive Producer of FourFourTwo; Jay Menon, Host of FourFourTwo; Peter Barnes, formerly of England, Man City and Man Utd; Roshan Narayan, Reporter of FourFourTwo


Football fans will get more BPL matches on Astro’s On Air, Online and Mobile
New channel, ASSP3 (817) for more LIVE coverage

Kuala Lumpur, September 8, 2010 – Astro customers who subscribed to the sports package have more viewing choices during the Barclays Premier League (BPL) through a multi-screen experience – on-air, online and on mobile.

In going beyond customers’ expectations for an unrivalled and complete viewing experience of one of the most popular football leagues in the world, particularly for LIVE games, a new sports channel, Astro SuperSport 3 (CH817) has been introduced to allow more LIVE coverage of the English Premier League clubs in action.

Lee Choong Khay, Head of Sports Business at Astro said, “With the exclusive rights to BPL in Malaysia through our collaboration with ESPN STAR Sports for the next three years, we are committed to bringing all 380 matches to our customers, with more LIVE matches and in HD than ever before. On average, customers can look forward to at least 8 LIVE matches per match week. Further, customers have a choice to catch LIVE streaming of selected matches online and on mobile via the Astro B.player and ESPN Player application via stadiumastro.com.”

“The recent World Cup was the first time we moved into a new sports proposition where customers had more choices and flexibility to access our sports content through different touch-points. Whether they are at home in front of the television, at a cafe with a laptop or with a mobile phone waiting to commute home, we aim to bring as many LIVE BPL matches and highlights as possible to them.”

Astro sports package customers can enjoy LIVE video streaming of selected games via Astro B.player and ESPN Player on www.astro.com.my/stadiumastro through a simple registration on the website. More LIVE matches will be introduced in stages throughout the season. iPhone users will be delighted to know that they can now watch the BPL games LIVE at no cost for a limited time by downloading Astro’s B.player app for free.

Apart from the BPL games on the weekend, football fans can enjoy daily football content covering English as well as the other European and Asian football scenes across the sports channels on Astro during weekdays with more news, programmes and highlights featuring popular hosts, pundits and guest commentators.

Every Tuesdays at 9PM on Astro SuperSport 3 (CH 817), FourFourTwo, Malaysia’s popular football talkshow is back this season with the latest news, highlights, expert opinion and predictions on who will reign as the champion this season. Hosted by Jason Dasey, Jay Menon and Roshan Narayan, this high-rating English football show returns with a one-hour BPL centric review and discussion show.

In conjunction the BPL season, customers can participate in weekly SMS polls. Tune in to FourFourTwo (BPL) – Tuesdays 9pm on ASSP 3 (Ch 817), for poll topics and poll results.
*For full programme information, refer to Table A.

For a uniquely Malaysian experience, tune into Bola@Mamak, every Wednesday at 9PM on Astro SuperSport 3 (CH 817) as female hosts Linora Low and Edleen Ismail bring you a 30-minute cutting-edge BPL flavoured chat show in a truly Malaysian setting of a mamak stall. Viewers can share their thoughts during this BPL season by sending in their feedback via SMS to respond to the topic of the week.

Astro has also introduced new supporting BPL programming produced by the Premier League on ASSP 3 such as Football Today, BPL News, BPL Fanzone, John Dykes interview programmes and much more.

In addition to BPL, Astro is also bringing more LIVE football action from the other premier leagues around the world, including the Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, French Ligue and J-League.

“Apart from the leagues, we are also bringing the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, English FA Cup and the Carling Cup. It’s going to be a truly football overload experience for our customers as we will now have more LIVE football action with the launch of Astro SuperSport 3 (CH817),” said Lee.

With the introduction of Astro SuperSport 3 (CH817), Astro sports package customers have access to 9 sports channels in addition to 2 HD sports channels.

Consumers can call 1 300 82 3838 or visit www.astro.com.my to subscribe to the sports pack.

A weekend in San Remo

McShea and the machine


SUBANG JAYA, 20 September 2010 - The fast, flowing and narrow mountains of San Remo will be the hunting and proving ground for the Proton Satria Neo S2000 when the 10th round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) moves to one of the most historical and famous international rallies this weekend (23-25 September).

Tarmac rally specialist Gilles Panizzi will take over the reins of the Satria Neo S2000 to spearhead the Proton R3 Malaysia Rally Team’s star studded two-car challenge at the 52nd San Remo Rally.

The experienced Frenchman and three-time San Remo winner in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and runner-up in 1999 and 2003, Panizzi is also one of the most celebrated drivers on asphalt winning seven World Rally Championship rounds for Peugeot between 1999 and 2003 - all on tarmac. Co-driven by Freddy Delorme, Panizzi is joined by former Production Car World Rally champion Northen Irishman Niall McShea.

A former World Rally Championship contender and resident asphalt expert with the Peugeot and Mitsubishi World Rally Teams, the 44-year-old brings a wealth of experience to PROTON that is seeking to embed its competitiveness in the IRC with a strong result in San Remo.

“We look forward to an encouraging and strong result this weekend given the combination of both experienced drivers and further advancements that have been made during testing to enhance the competitiveness of the Satria Neo S2000,” said Team Manager Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood.

The IRC round in San Remo has attracted at no less than 30 Super 2000 cars which include manufacturers such as Fiat, Peugeot and Skoda. A classic on the international rallying calendar, San Remo places tremendous strain on car and competitor due to the undulating nature of its roads, tricky sets of open and blind corners and rapid climbs and descents.

With the team focusing on the Asia Pacific Rally Championship this season, PROTON’s selected entries in the 2010 IRC are geared towards fine-tuning the Satria Neo S2000 for a full assault on the championship in 2011.

 In June, the team competed at the Geko Ypres Rally of Belgium, another tarmac event, but its three-car run was cut short by a technical problems. The Satria NEO S2000’s best performance in the IRC to date has been a second placing at the Rally of Scotland and finishing fourth in the Rally of Russia in its debut year in 2009.

While the focus this year in on the APRC, PROTON’s selected presence in the IRC enables the team to not only develop the performance of the Satria NEO S2000 on tarmac but the chance to measure up against the other manufacturers and stay abreast with new developments. The mix of both gravel and tarmac events in both the APRC and IRC has also provided plenty of valuable input into developing a more competitive package in terms of performance, handling and reliability.

Propelling the PROTON brand globally and generating greater international awareness via motorsports, the Satria Neo S2000’s consistent top 10 finishes throughout the 2009 IRC season has successfully drawn enormous interest from spectators, competitors and the international media, in addition to attracting a large television audience worldwide with the event broadcasted in 59 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and America, reaching 240 million television viewers.

PROTON, established in 1983, is Malaysia's largest manufacturer of automobiles, and the only full-fledged OEM car manufacturer in South-East Asia. With operations in key markets from UK to the Middle East, and across South-East Asia and Australasia, especially in countries like China and Iran, PROTON produces cars to suit a range of consumer demands and preferences.

Its offerings include versatile and reliable four-door family vehicles, two-door hatchbacks for the young-at-heart, luxurious and stylish executive sedans, spacious and affordable multi-purpose vehicles, as well as the world-renowned sports cars from Lotus. Most importantly, PROTON models are now developed with Lotus Engineering, offering customers superior ride and handling experience in every drive.

PROTON’s inception as a key driver of national development has seen the brand accelerate its learning curve through technology transfer with strategic partnerships and technical collaborations. By listening to the needs of customers, PROTON cars are now steadily on track to achieve the mission for the future, with PROTON set to become a marque which builds cars with passion and soul; cars that are a delight to drive - and a pleasure to own.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Duit duit, di mana kau duit...

MSN hutang kami, Hutang MSN menjadi tajuk utama Berita Harian/Berita Minggu.

Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN) selaku sebuah badan berkanun boleh kumpul dana.

Serba sedikit sejarah MSN, pernah menyimpan sebanyak RM300 juta tapi susut secara mendadak akibat kerakusan manusia! Mereka yang tahu perkara ini tahulah.

Jumlah itu terhasil kerana Ketua Pengarah MSN ketika itu, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad, cermat, terlalu cermat sehingga orang tuduh dia lokek.

Dulu, aku suka buat isu, macam lagakan atlit, persatuan dengan MSN.

Mereka mengadu dekat aku, "macam mana kita nak training bro, duit elaun berapa sen, aku minyak dari Kuala Lumpur ke Bukit Jalil dah berapa".

Selalu babitkan atlit olahraga, sukan yang miskin dan kurang dana.

Dalam marah-marah terhadap aku, Mazlan jawab mudah.

"MSN harus berjimat cermat sebagai langkah jangka panjang. Dana yang dikumpul berpunca daripada keputusan kami mengamalkan belanjawan berhemah sejak suntikan dana kerajaan pada 1993 untuk Jaya'98. Hendak bergantung kepada Perbendaharaan dan penaja, kadangkala lewat disalurkan. Dengan adanya dana yang mencukupi, MSN tidak harus risau keadaan ekonomi semasa.

"MSN bukan memikirkan satu sukan saja tapi lebih 30 sukan prestasi tinggi."

Sebelum Mazlan jadi ketua pengarah, MSN ada mengumpul dana dengan pelbagai cara, termasuk mengadakan  pertunjukan sarkas. Dana MSN pada 1982, ketika ia dihidupkan semula oleh Datuk Mokhtar Hashim, Menteri Belia dan Sukan ketika itu, ialah RM3 juta. Pada 1988, ia mencecah RM7 juta.

Sekarang aku tak tahu banyak mana jumlah dalam kantung MSN.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ivan the Terrible for Showdown

I'm at an age where things retro are hip and trendy. That is why when it was announced Ivan Lendl would be one of six tennis stars coming to Kuala Lumpur next month for the 2010 Showdown of  Champions, billed the Night of Aces, my mind harks back to my early teens. Lendl's exploits as a mean machine on the tennis court filled my imagination. Very few words on Lendl's career in the New Straits Times in the 80s escaped me. Rolland Garros, Flushing Meadows and Wimbledon...everything about tennis that I know was largely due to my admiration for Lendl, a true winner. Of course it helped that my late Ayah was an avid tennis player. My involvement though was restricted to carrying his tennis bag and putting it into the car!

I used to have posters of Ivan Lendl on my wall

I had a pair of this

But I never had the means to buy this shirt

Among the first few I wish to meet in the flesh is of course Ivan the Terrible. Then only shall I renew my acquaintance with Miss Kournikova...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Salam Eidul Fitr 1431 Hijr

Ramadhan al Mubarak berlalu pergi, Syawal menjelma lagi. Tidak cukup rasanya ibadahku sepanjang Ramadhan. Aku berdoa agar usia kita dipanjangkan agar dapat bertemu lagi dengan Ramadhan.

Kuhulurkan salam Eidul Fitri, 10 jari disusun memohon kemaafan, kepada:

Makcik dan Pakcik di Yong Peng dan Segamat serta adik-adik,

Mak Long, anak-anak dan cucu-cucu di Kluang,

Mak Nga (kali pertama menyambut Syawal tanpa Apak yang meninggal hampir dua bulan lalu pada usia 91 tahun), anak-anak dan cucu-cucu di Parit Sulong,

Mak Nyang dan anak-anak serta cucu-cucu di Parit Sulong,

Mak Ngah Tipah adik beradik, anak-anak dan cucu-cucu, Long Miah dan Long Rahmat serta anak cucu, Cik Dal dan Cik Jad serta anak-anak

Seluruh saudara-maraku di Merlimau, Melaka,

Akakku Kak Lin dan anak saudaraku Aishah

Adikku Man yang dilengkapi baju kalis peluru setiap kali ke Iraq, isterinya Adilah dan anak mereka Alya di Dubai,

Bang Long dan keluarganya yang besar...

Mak dan Abah yang menatangku bagai minyak yang penuh di Kulim,

Adik iparku Azam dan isteri Risya yang beraya di Turkmenistan,

Tok Wan Abu Bakar Hassan dan Tok di Serdang, Kulim,

keluarga, ipar-duai, saudara mara dan sahabat handai di Johor, Melaka dan Singapura serta Kedah dan di mana jua, pengunjung blog ini, sahabat-sahabat dan krew Kafe Sukan Astro Arena, Astro Awani, Rembat Kosmo!, New Straits Times, Berita Harian, Harian Metro, The Malay Mail, kumpulan Utusan, Radio dan Televisyen Malaysia, rangkaian Media Prima, Avittele, warga sukan tempatan, keluarga pentadbir di Kementerian Belia dan Sukan dan agensi di bawahnya, Majlis Sukan Negara, Institut Sukan Negara, Majlis Olimpik Malaysia, Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM), LD Sports Sdn Bhd, pejuang-pejuang dalam Persatuan Penulis-penulis Sukan Malaysia (SAM), rakan-rakan sepersekolahan di St John's dan semua rakan-rakan di Facebook.

Ikhlas daripada loose cannon, bagi pihak keluarganya.

Last but not least, ampun dan maaf kupinta daripada isteri tercinta, Intan Salina dan anak-anakku...

Kutitipkan lagu ini, antara kegemaran aku ketika aku kecil

Hari jadi Ayah 9 September...macam cucunya juga, Nur Alya Rayhana Razman

Juga Al-Fatihah kutitipkan buat Mak dan Ayah, Tok Mian dan Tok Nyemah yang tidak sempat ku temui, Tok Aziz dan Tok Rasinah yang memanjakan aku, Long Ramlah dan Long Zabir, Tok Ngah Ghafar, Tok Busu Jamal, saudara mara, rakan-rakan dan warga sukan tempatan yang sudah pulang ke alam barzakh.

Cash injection for States

Former National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad welcomes the RM63 million to be disbursed to the States Sports Councils, with each State assured of RM4 million each.

Financial assistance for State government machinery up to a tune of RM4 million each

Strategic thinking required in order to pick the right discipline of sports. Diving was revived by Asum with NSC providing the initiative, drive and financial muscle.

Dividen ASB naik?

Tun, benarkah dividen ASB naik mendadak, Tun?

Iya, benar. Sekarang dividen ASB lebih tinggi daripada yang ditawarkan oleh Bank Rakyat!

Ooooppppppps....this is a mere figment of my imagination OK! I wish to celebrate Raya with my brood, not battle MCMC lah.

Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, former chief secretary to the Government and chairman of Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), is seen in the picture penning words onto the book Sports and Recreation, a detailed portrait of Malaysian games and pastimes published by Editions Didier Millet in 2008 as one of the 16 volumes under the Encyclopedia of Malaysia series. Ahmad Sarji is the volume editor and loose cannon is one of three editorial consultants.

 Thanks Tun, for the encouraging words...

Kafe Sukan had the privilege of hosting Ahmad Sarji in his capacity as the president of the Malaysian Lawn Bowls Federation (MLBF).

Kafe Sukan producer Slamet Sazly Yakub, Akbar, Ahmad Sarji and loose cannon

Lawn bowls has produced winners of world calibre but it does not appeal to the masses. According to Ahmad Sarji, efforts are being made to promote the sport among schoolkids.

Ahmad Sarji is also the deputy president of the Malaysian Malays Cricket Association and chairman of PNB, owners of Merdeka Stadium and Stadium Negara. Next time, cricket and Merdeka Stadium!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A mirage in Kuwait

www.the-afc.com reproduces The Malay Mail writer Rizal Hashim’s article on Malaysia’s performance in the 1980 edition of the AFC Asian Cup™ in Kuwait. Hashim’s piece was selected as the best article for the month of April in the AFC Asian Cup 2007™ Sportswriters Contest.

By Rizal Hashim

The seventh edition of the Asian Cup finals in Kuwait in September 1980 was supposed to be the apex of a memorable year for Malaysian football.

Six months earlier, the nation rejoiced as Soh Chin Aun and Co bestrode the soggy Merdeka Stadium pitch to qualify for the Moscow Olympics at the expense of 1968 bronze medalists Japan and South Korea.

But once the Malaysian Government announced they were joining the US-led boycott of the Moscow Games, the team landscape changed considerably.

When September came, the architects of Malaysia's road to Moscow, German coach Karl-Heinz Weigang and his assistant Mohamed Bakar, were no longer part of the team. Weigang, it was reported by the Press, was told to rest because of a heart problem.

Since the appointment of the national coach was made on an ad-hoc basis then, Mohamed, who guided the team through the qualifying campaign in Bangkok in May 1979, made way for Kelantan's Mohamed Che Su.

Key players such as Sabah duo, the lanky James Wong and the speed merchant Hassan Sani, were not interested in donning the yellow jersey anymore. Keeper R. Arumugam and burly centre-back Santokh Singh also pulled out, while Mokhtar "Supermokh" Dahari, who had an impressive tournament in the previous finals in Iran, had announced the first of his three retirements in late 1979. When met recently, Bakri Ibni, who netted Malaysia's first goal in the 2-1 victory over the Koreans which ensured the country's entry to Moscow, offered his take on the issues surrounding the pull-outs.

"There were certain quarters in FA of Malaysia (FAM) who did not want Weigang to helm the team. With him out of the way, some players lost interest. The German, mind you, had been instrumental in persuading James and Hassan to feature in the team during the pre-Olympics. But basically, Weigang had laid down the foundations of the team."

Nonetheless, the team left for Kuwait with an almost unrecognizable attack. Many felt Malacca's Ramli Junit, Terengganu's Zulkifli Hamzah and Johor's Tukamin Bahari could not hold a candle to Mokhtar, James or Hassan.

In the rearguard, with his uncanny anticipation and elegance, Chin Aun was Malaysia's answer to German libero, Franz Beckenbauer. Aided by Jamal Nasir Ismail, Wan Jamak Wan Hassan, D. Davendran, Nik Fauzi Hassan, Kamaruddin Abdullah and Yahya Jusoh, Chin Aun held the defence together, while Shukor Salleh, S. Pusphanathan, G. Torairaju and Abdah Alif took turns to stoke the engine room.

Malaysia kicked off their campaign on Malaysia's 17th anniversary with a 1-1 draw against South Korea on Sept 16. The Koreans opened accounts through Choi Soon Ho in the 69th minute, but after two pieces of inspired substitutions, where Abdah and Zulkifli were sent in to replace Pushpanathan and Abdullah Ali, respectively, Ramli snatched a lastgasp equaliser off a corner from Shukor Salleh.

Barely 18 then, Soon Ho went on to become Korea's outstanding striker of his generation, gracing two World Cups and scoring in their 3-2 defeat to Italy at Mexico'86.

Next was the crucial tie against hosts Kuwait. Backed by a vociferous crowd, Kuwait opened the scoring through Fatih Kamel in the 20th minute only for Zulkifli to pull Malaysia level just before the breather.

Then controversy reigned. Kuwait were awarded two penalties, both duly converted by their hero, Jassim Yacoub, in the 53rd minute and 77th minutes. Referee Henrique Andoza from Mexico pointed to the spot the first time after Bakri was adjudged to have pushed Kameel, while Chin Aun was deemed the guilty one for fouling Faisal Al-Dakheel.

After the match, Mohamed Che Su vented his anger at the referee, claiming that Kuwait "had more than 11 players". Days later, thanks to goals from Abdah and Tukamin, Malaysia bounced back with a 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Then allegations of interference from assistant team manager R. Ramalingam surfaced when Malaysia were held to a 1-1 draw by Qatar.

Malaysia needed to win by a big margin but in a bizarre decision, Chin Aun did not start, coming off the bench later to play in attack. "It was certainly a perplexing decision. What I remember was confusion, my fitness and the heat of Kuwait. It was like standing beside a furnace. I was not fully fit, according to the team management, so they wanted me to play in the second half against Qatar," said Chin Aun.

The draw denied Malaysia a place in the semi-finals as South Korea topped the group with seven points, followed by Kuwait, two points adrift. Malaysia's Arabian adventure ended with a record of 1-2-1 which earned them four points. It was Malaysia's last appearance in the continent's most prized title until the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) picked Kuala Lumpur in 2003 as one of four countries to stage the 2007 edition.

Midway through the tournament, Iraq attacked Iran. The Iranians were severely affected as they crumbled at the semi-final stage, while Kuwait won 2-1 to advance to their second successive final.

Coached by Carlos Alberto Parreira, the Kuwaitis went on to beat South Korea 3-0 in the final, courtesy of Al-Dakheel's double and Al-Karam.

(Published in The Malay Mail on April 7, 2007)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Who's K.T Rajah@Ang Teck Lee?

My ex-boss Tony Mariadass has written a beautiful tribute to a true Malaysian - in name and in substance. Please read True Malaysian.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Takziah kepada Dr Ramlan

Salam takziah kepada Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, ketua pengarah Institut Sukan Negara (ISN) atas pemergian bonda tercinta pada bulan Ramadhan yang mulia. Allahyarhamah menghembuskan nafas terakhir pada jam 2.0pagi di HKL.

Baru Isnin lalu aku bertanyakan khabar ibunya ketika sesi rakaman Kafe Sukan.

Bapanya, Pak Aziz, menggunting rambut ku ketika kecil. Saloonnya yang besar dan kemas serta kemesraannya membuatkan arwah ayah membawa aku dan Man setiap bulan.

Jenazah dibawa ke rumah Pak Aziz di 174, Lorong Keramat 8, Kampung Datuk Keramat sebelum dikebumikan selepas Zohor. Al-Fatihah.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Madi and Dumbenech

I thought RTM news sports editor Ismadi Abdul Manap, currently enjoying Paris after a vacation (covering the BWF badminton World Championship) was pulling my leg when he commented on his Facebook account that he met Raymond Domenech in the subway train or as it is known in France, the Metro.

All doubts were erased when I saw this picture in Haresh Deol's blog! Ah, I would have given Dumbenech, who dragged French football to a new low in the recent World Cup, a rollicking Malaysian style if I were the one sitting beside him!

Nadzmi's recipe

I never knew a corporate figure like Datuk Nadzmi Salleh was adept at cooking! His speciality, based on the In Person Merdeka Special over Astro Awani, is duck rice.

With Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong coming within a whisker of ending the nation's wait for a world title in badminton, I'm sure Nadzmi is looking for the right ingredients to whip up for the BA of Malaysia the recipe for success.

As the executive chef, Nadzmi has a reliable sous chef, Datuk James Selvaraj, who was recently appointed BAM high-performance director.

Titus is ready

Finally, Titus James is ready.

The 24-year old Paris-based Brickfield lad has offered his services to national chief coach, K. Rajagobal.

Titus who sought PR status in France to expedite his work permit and allow him the freedom to move about, has no plans to switch his loyalty elsewhere. He is currently plying his trade with Nanteuil FC in a district league as the team's first-choice left-back.

Disclosing his plans in Astro Arena's talk show Kafe Sukan, Titus said he intends to impress Rajagobal if and when given the chance.

"When I last attended training with the national team under Bertalan Bicskei in 2005, I was not fully fit," said Titus.

Titus did not answer B. Sathianathan's call-up for the Chelsea match in June 2008 due to problems with his work permit.

Nanteuil is Titus' fifth club in France after Le Havre, Quevilly, Meaux and Villenoy.

Titus said he almost made the cut to join Paris St Germain but his hopes were scuppered after a change of management.

The last Malaysian to try his luck in France was Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli, who represented FSCR Haguenau, a fourth division club that serve as a nursery for Racing Strasbourg between 2000 and 2001.

"If I'm not able to impress any French club, I plan to venture out and try my luck in Switzerland or other places in Europe," said Titus.

He said he was equally adept as a left-back or left-flanker, a position currently filled by Negeri Sembilan's S. Kunanlan in the national team. The left-back position is usually a toss-up between Azmi Muslim and Asraruddin Putra Omar. Both can also play further upfront. Others who are able to play on the left-wing are Kedah duo Khyril Muhymeen Zambri and Baddrol Bakhtiar. The national team are currently in Doha, preparing to take on Oman helmed by former national coach, Claude Le Roy, on Friday.

Loose cannon, Titus, Akbar Sahari and James Palani