Champions of South East Asia
Last night, in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 finals, the match ended with Indonesia 2 – 1 Malaysia. However, Malaysia still won the trophy, thanks to the Malaysia 3 – 0 Indonesia scoreline in the first leg. Yes, the AFF Suzuki Cup have a home and away format even for the finals.
Kudos to the Harimau Malaya football team. They’ve created history as this is the first time Malaysia have ever captured the AFF Suzuki Cup title. This is also just the second time Malaysia got into the finals. The last time they did it was in 1996. Almost 15 years ago. Last night, Malaysia became the Champions of the South East Asia region.
The Youngest Team In The Tournament
Malaysia came into the tournament with a relatively young team. As a matter of fact, we have the youngest set of players in the tournament. The core of the team is made up of the under 23 team. These are the players who won the SEA Games gold medal in 2009.
We have a 19 year old playing at the center of our defense. A 21 year old manning the goal. A 23 year old as team captain. These young and talented set of players have shown and proved themselves yet again this year in the AFF Suzuki Cup. No one, probably not even the Malaysian football fans gave them any hope of capturing the title. Especially after they were trashed by Indonesia in the very first match of the tournament. They were only expected to proceed to the second round.
However, thanks to the winning mindset that have been instilled in them, they have certainly over achieved their expectations.
The Coming of Age of Malaysian Football
Two excellent results back to back in two straight years. No recent Malaysian Football team has ever achieved such results. Kudos to the FAM. They have managed to develop a winning team in these youngsters. All the international exposures given to this team are now bearing fruit. They even went face to face twice with Manchester United in their Asian Tour in 2009. Imagine the experience our centre back gained when he went up against Rooney and Michael Owen in that match.
The coming of age for these young set of players is inevitable. We saw that in the AFF Suzuki Cup. The young lads have matured through every single game they played in the tournament. They’ve displayed true grit, focus, determination and skills through out the matches played. The most important thing to note, they have shown that we now have players who are really playing their hearts out for the country.
Malaysian Football In The Media Limelight
The Malaysian Football team is now enjoying the limelight once again. The media and local fans are now back in full force behind them. Even the players are enjoying newly found fame. The currently in form keeper, Khairul Fahmi is currently among the top trenders in Tweeter. His fame is also spilling over to his girlfriend’s blog. Too bad, he doesn’t have a blog of his own.
Both Safee and Norshahrul are also enjoying renewed fame on the internet. One Manchester United player also congratulated the Malaysian team in his tweet.
The Future of Malaysian Football
So, after two back to back years of success, what is next for the current set of Malaysian Football players? Well, too bad we did not qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2011 in January. If we did, can the team stand up to the likes of Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Australia? These teams have featured in the World Cup Finals.
At the moment, Malaysia is the King of Football in South East Asia. If the current team stays true to form and improve, we stand to be the team to beat in the next few years in this region. However, we should now set our eyes on becoming as good as, if not better then, then likes of Korea and Japan.
It was a job well done in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010. Not a small feat by any measure since the squad is very young. However, FAM needs to keep nurturing these youngsters. Groom them to become a power house, at least in the Asian region.
Malaysian Football Players In South East Asian Clubs?
For these youngsters, they still have a long way to go. I only hope they don’t end up like so many other young potentials we had – no where. Given the right exposure, they can play anywhere in the region and outside. I do hope, if given the chance, they take it. Get the exposure of playing abroad. Bring back the experience into our national team.
Among the players whom I think is capable of playing abroad is Safee Sali, Khairul Fahmi and Safiq Ali. For Malaysia Football to get to the World level, our players must have the desire to play outside of Malaysia. Again, if you want it, you need to believe in it and work on it. Only then can you achieve it.
Malaysia Footballers, Do You Want To Play Outside Malaysia?
My question to the Malaysian Football players right now.. Who among you would love to play for a club outside from Malaysia? No, not for an English team. That’s too wishful thinking, at least at the moment. Be realistic. How about in this region? In the Singapore League? In the Indonesia League? In the Thailand League? Why are we always looking at countries so far away from here?
Yes, I know we should target for the best. We would really love to see our players playing for the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. However, that should be our long term goal. Our short term goal should be to have our players play for clubs in the South East Asia region first. Then extend it to the Asian region. Only after that can we look at the world.
What’s your take on Malaysian Football future? Would you like to see Malaysian players playing outside even if it’s just for teams in Singapore, Thailand or Indonesia? Share your views in here.