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We bid farewell to 2009 and welcome the new year 2010. Lets take a look at 12 interesting soccer events in 2009 in the order that they come up to mind – my mind of course.

1. Tottenham’s 9 – 1 mauling of Wigan Athletics

This is probably one of the best highlights of the year from my favorite Premier League team. An incredible Tottenham Hotspurs performance especially from both Aaron Lennon and Jermaine Defoe saw Spurs blasting 9 goals past Wigan Athletics. 8 of them were scored in the second half.  Defoe himself scored a personal best of 5 goals.

2. USA’s entry into the Confederation’s Cup Final

Nobody even thought that USA will feature in the Final. They lost their first two group matches to Italy and Brazil. However, as it turns out their final match 3-0 win over Egypt was good enough to see them through into the semi finals of the tournament.

They even surprised Europe’s champion Spain with a 2 – 0 victory in the semis. In the final against Brazil, they were 2 – 0 at half time. Brazil came back after the interval to score 3 goals and denied USA soccer an ultimate dream of winning the Confederation’s Cup.

3. Amri Yahya’s two goals against Manchester United

Manchester United came to Malaysia in their pre-season Asia Tour. On paper, Malaysia were truly a no match for United, even in pre-season form. However, the Malaysian spirit proved to be a surprise for the visiting team. We gave United a run for their money indeed. Selangor skipper Amri Yahya scored a memorable brace in the match.

The first, a truly mesmerizing looping ball that went over an off positioned Van der Saar straight into goal from 30 yards out. His second came in the second half when he pounced on a Ben Foster  error in front of the United goal.

4. Malaysia’s Gold medal in the SEA Games

Malaysia U23 Wins Gold in Sea Games 2009

Malaysia U23 Celebrates Gold in Sea Games 2009

After 20 years of waiting, the Malaysia soccer team finally made a historical gold medal win in the SEA Games. Malaysia went into the SEA Games final as an under dog facing a more fancied Vietnam. In their first encounter in the group matches, Malaysia went down 3 – 1 to Vietnam.

Malaysia, however won all their other group matches to secure the second spot in Group A. We even defeated our next door neighbor Thailand 2 – 1.  In the semis, Malaysia went up against the home team Laos and weathered the Laotian home crowd support to come out victorious with a 3 – 1 win.

In the final, Malaysia devised a solid backline to prevent Vietnam from creating chances at goal and relied on quick counter attacks. The tactic works like a charm and delivered Malaysia’s first gold medal in soccer after 20 years.

5. Selangor’s Treble

Selangor is known as a soccer power house in Malaysia. The Red Giants just have not been up to mark in recent years. However, in the last couple of years, Selangor have risen up from the shadows. The once mighty Giants are now once again a force to be reckoned with in the Malaysian Super League.

Selangor achieved another history in Malaysian soccer. They won a treble in the 2009 season. Winning the Charity Shield, FA Cup and also the Super League title. Too bad, they did not make the Malaysia Cup final. That would really have made it a superb season for Selangor fans.

6. Malaysia Cup Final Mayhem

The 2009 Malaysia Cup saw two teams who have long dream of reaching the Malaysia Cup Final. It’s been many moons since both Negri Sembilan and Kelantan saw action in a Malaysia Cup Final. It was Kelantan’s second final appearance in 2009 after their loss against Selangor in the FA Cup final.

Kelantan fans arrived in large numbers. They took almost 75% of the seats hoping to see their team create Malaysia Cup history. However, it was the fans that created history. As the Kelantan players wilted on the field, their fans anger rose to a high fever pitch level.

The Kelantan fans chose to vent out their frustration by burning the stadium seats and throwing water bottles on to the field. Fires broke out  at  a number of places as the Kelantan fans dispersed.

A Malaysia Cup final to be remembered indeed, but for the wrong reasons.

7. Thiery Henry’s hand in France’s ticket to World Cup 2010

Maradona did it once in a World Cup match between Argentina and England. Thiery Henry did this time in a match between France and Ireland. Henry admitted using his hands to control the ball before passing it to Gallas for the score.

The resulting goal allowed France to qualify for World Cup 2010. Ireland on the other hand had to rue their missed chances. The incident also added fuel to the issue of using video replays in soccer matches. Do you think that video replays should be used in soccer matches? To what extent? Leave me  your comments.

8. New Zealand’s entry into the World Cup 2010

In New Zealand, soccer is probably not in many people’s minds. People relate more to the All Blacks – their national rugby team.  However, the New Zealand soccer team – All Whites, have risen to the fore as they have qualified into World Cup 2010.

Only their second appearance at the World Cup. They qualified after beating Bahrain 1 – 0 at home.

Can the All Whites be as dominating as their All Blacks brethren?

9. Premier League’s Battle For Top Four

For years now, the top four premier league positions are locked between Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. This season, however, the race for top four sees new faces. Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa are among the other teams staking their claim at the top four spots.

At the moment, today, any of the following teams have very realistic shot at landing the top four spots – Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Birmingham.

The battle at the bottom is also still wide open. The three teams at the bottom – Portsmouth, Hull City, and Bolton can find some comfort in the sense that there are 6 teams on top of them which are separated only by 3 points.  None of the 6 on top of these three should remain comfortable. All it takes is just one loss and they could very well be one of the bottom three.

An interesting Premier League season, don’t you think?

10. Christiano Ronaldo’s Transfer to Real Madrid

He made headlines as he weaved his magic on the field with Manchester United. He made headlines as he made his way from Manchester United to Real Madrid. A record transfer it was indeed.

The recent Real Madrid purchases raised another old issue about the transfer market. With Ronaldo and Kaka’s transfer prices, many have raised the question once again. Should player’s transfer fees and salaries be capped?

Are teams paying too much for certain players? What do you think?

11. Barcelona’s Treble

Barcelona created history in 2009. They are the first Spanish side to win league, cup and UEFA Champions League in the same season. They also did it with a brand new coach – Josep Guardiola.

For Josep Guardiola, it certainly is an amazing feat. He also consequently became the sixth person to win the European Cup as a coach and a player.

What made it even more memorable? They denied Manchester United a back to back Champions League win. Sorry MU fans.

12.  Manchester United vs Manchester City

I have this match in mind because I think it was simply one of the best matches I’ve ever witnessed in the Premier League. Of course, that Tottenham 9 -1 win was better..

The game ended with a 4 – 3 win for United. However, City fought back to draw level three times before that final Owen strike. Every time United scored, City would draw level to make it 3 – 3. United needed a super effort from Michael Owen in a strangely very long extra time added on to win the match.

I especially like City’s third goal. Bellamy left Rio Ferdinand in a trail of smokes to round up Ben Foster and score.

What’s your best Premier League game for 2009?

Here’s wishing all a brighter Soccer future in 2010.