Feb 28, 2009

Harris willing to help FAM

FORMER national coach Allan Harris is willing to help the FA of Malaysia and no, he isn't expecting a big, fat salary.
Harris, who handled the various national teams in 2000-2004, has been following Malaysian football's recent developments and just wants to give something back. "Football has been good to me and I just want to give something back to the game. Why not in Malaysia?" said Harris, who contacted Timesport from London yesterday. "I believe we can sit down and work things out. I am not looking at earning a big salary. FAM has been very good to me and the fans are also very supportive, so why not? "But FAM can't be looking at short term success as there must, at least, be a five-year plan. All parties must also come together if Malaysian football is to succeed."
Harris, a former Chelsea player, was in charge of the national Under-23 team that won the 2001 Sea Games silver in Kuala Lumpur and guided the senior team to the 2003 Tiger Cup (now Asean Championship) semi-finals after wins over Thailand and Singapore. His pedigree as a coach is unquestionable but is FAM willing to give him a second chance?

No escaping the storm this time, FAM

HAVING weathered numerous storms before, one gets the impression that the FA of Malaysia feels that it is only a matter of time before the criticism that is being hurled at it goes away.
After all, it has happened before as FAM has, somehow, always survived but one gets the feeling that this time, there is no escape. FAM has to change for if it doesn't, then it is staring at the end of Malaysian football. If there was one aspect that always saved FAM before, it was sound governance. Sure, the national team had become a pale shadow of what it once was but that was masked by the fact that FAM had several programmes in place which promised a better future.
That, however, doesn't seem promising based on feedback. The future, they say, is at the grassroots but experts say all Malaysia has to rely on for the future are several 15 and 16-year-old players in the Bukit Jalil Sports School. The rest, and this includes those playing in the Education Ministry Cup, lack basic skills and this is alarming considering that we are talking about 16-year-olds. The mini rise that saw Malaysia win a silver in the 2001 Kuala Lumpur Sea Games turned out to be a false dawn and, should FAM still believe otherwise, that point was driven home in the Asean Championship last year when Malaysia failed to make the semi-finals. Several of those who featured in the 2001 Sea Games played in the Asean Championship and they are products of numerous expensive programmes with the end result still being mediocrity. What makes the situation alarming is that FAM's administration, which was once the best among sports associations, is also no longer what it used to be. The on-going spat in the referees department is proof of that and the 12-month suspension of Felda United coach Reduan Abdullah on Friday goes further in showing that FAM is losing touch with reality. Is suspending Reduan going to stop others from criticising FAM? The disciplinary board made it a point to say that Reduan had gotten his facts wrong but how does that explain the results of the national team's fitness test which only three players passed? Reduan has been silenced but what is FAM going to do about the alarming lack of quality in the M-League? How is it going to attract sponsors when the fans are staying away, even from the historic Malaysia Cup? Even before these, and numerous more, problems are solved, FAM is already planning on restructuring the M-League and word is, the doors will be reopened to foreign players. Why were they shut in the first place? Malaysians are desperate to see football saved but how is that going to happen when FAM's every step forward is followed by three steps back? This time, the storm won't blow away - By Christopher Raj

Feb 27, 2009

Worden already staring at exit

HE has only been in charge for three matches thus far but Ken Worden could be staring at the exit door should Terengganu get knocked out of the FA Cup by Young Tigers today. That would be a dubious record for a coach who has won the Malaysia Cup and guided the national team before to have but such is the state of Malaysian football. Apparently, if one official is to be believed, there are some in the Terengganu FA who are unhappy with how Worden is managing the team. "We are not very happy with the way he is managing the team and I think he can't afford to lose against Young Tigers. It is now up to him to walk the talk," said the high ranking Terengganu official, who declined to be identified. Whether this could be due to Worden's "bunch of schoolboys" statement after his first match in charge cannot be confirmed but the Australian is already under pressure. Ironically, his fate could be decided by a side coached by K. Rajagopal, who was Worden's assistant in his Selangor days. Young Tigers lost the first leg 2-1 but with away goals coming into play, a 1-0 win will suffice for them at the National Stadium today. "It is not over yet for us and I believe the boys will deliver. We controlled the first leg and also created many chances and anything is possible," said Rajagopal. "It won't be easy though as we are playing against a tough team. They have a seasoned squad and we have to produce our best." Malaysian Super League (MSL) surprise leaders Kelantan are surely through to the last eight after whipping Police 5-1 in the first leg and the only question is how many more will they score today? Kelantan, who gained a back door entry to the MSL, have the likes of Indra Putra Mahayuddin and Khalid Jamlus and they could be looking at an extended Cup run. Selangor edged the first leg of the Klang Valley derby against Kuala Lumpur 1-0 and they will be confident of finishing the job at the Shah Alam Stadium today.

Own goals keeping local football down ..

Talk to any local football fan and you will only hear regret in his or her voice about the standards of Malaysian football today.

They will most probably reminisce about the golden days of local football in the 1970s and 1980s. And it is very likely that they would not be able to name any big football stars from the current batch.Long gone are the days when football stadiums across the country and the Causeway - the likes of Stadium Merdeka, Likas Stadium, Stadium Larkin, City Stadium and the National Stadium - were packed with hardcore fans.It is very common now to see these stadiums half-empty or with only a handful of supporters watching a match. No match today has the intensity of a Selangor versus Singapore game of the past

For the man on the street, there are many things wrong with Malaysian football, and each would have his or her own suggestions to revive local standards of the ‘beautiful game'.However, Football Association of Malaysia deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin has a rather simplistic, albeit controversial, solution."If I have a free hand, I would suspend the league for next year," he told Malaysiakini."I will not waste money on the league. I would stop everything, tear everything down, and start building it back from the ground up," he added.The FAM presently runs two senior competitive leagues - the Malaysian Super League and Malaysian Premier League. Both the leagues comprise 14 teams each.The FAM also runs two cup competitions - the Malaysia Cup and the Malaysia FA Cup.Players for the national team are drawn from the teams competing in the local leagues. At present, the national football team is without a manager and stands at a lowly rank of 164 in international standings.

Khairy also listed five reasons for the abysmal standard of Malaysian football today - lack of money, no grassroots structure to pool young players from, no professional coaches, the scourge of corruption among players and losing supporters to the European leagues."Football today suffers from a lack of money. We have lost the tobacco sponsorship. So most of the money that we get is spent on the league and all the national teams, both of which are crap," he admitted.It must be noted that about RM300 million was pumped into the FAM from 1997-2005 by then sponsor Dunhill. This funding has now dried up and the FAM is seeking fresh aid from the government to revitalise the local football scene.The cash-flow problem is also a reason why local teams have been barred by the FAM from hiring foreign players.

Many teams have struggled to pay the wages of these foreign players, leaving them unpaid or worse still, having their contracts terminated without proper reasons.Supporters and football pundits have argued that the presence of these foreign players would have added glamour to the league - like how it has done for the Japanese league.The other view - which eventually won the day - was that the presence of foreign players would hamper the growth of local talent.Several local teams too have been guilty of hiring questionable foreign players who are eventually let off due to their sub-playing standards.Khairy, however, felt that it was not just the presence of foreign players that was hampering the growth of the local talent.He blames that squarely on a lack of opportunities for young local talents to be spotted."We don't have a grassroots structure anymore. There are no more (new) state-run academies or any local leagues for new talents to come up and be identified," he said.

And in tandem with this, his third reason for the present malady appears - a lack of professional coaches in football academies or schools of excellence."The academies are not staffed with professional coaches. Coaches are not trained properly. And they are not licensed properly," he charged.Khairy also did not mince his word when he said that corruption still existed in the game

There is still some element of graft in the game, which still affects the top level personnel throwing games and things like that (away)," he said, with his demeanour and body language suggesting that even those in the top echelons of FAM have no idea how to tackle the problem.The golden era of Malaysian football came to a complete halt in 1994 when almost 100 players - including many household names and international players - were barred for life from playing, for their part in match-fixing in 1994-1995.Ever since, the standard of Malaysian football has never been the same. All league results are now viewed with a suspicious eye - be it a big-margin win or an upset defeat.And to make things worse, several players were hauled up last year for allegedly selling matches.Khairy's admission of corruption in the game only adds confirmation to the suspicion that bookies are still controlling local football leagues.Rounding up his fifth reason for the fall from grace of Malaysian football, Khairy blamed the popular European leagues of taking away supporters from local matches.

He, however, said the European leagues alone were not responsible for the troubles plaguing Malaysian football. In fact, local supporters have turned to the European leagues as a result of troubles in local football."It's a vicious cycle. People are not interested in local football

Simply because at the moment Astro decides to show games on a Saturday night, people don't go to the stadium anymore," he said.He also blamed some of the local newspapers for a lack of coverage on local football."It's all about Manchester United, about Liverpool, about Arsenal, so how do you get out of the vicious cycle if Malaysians themselves couldn't care less?"If I ask you to name five players from the national team, can you? Hard pressed, right?" he said.Given such circumstances, he said, his remedy to solve the problem would be to suspend the local league for a year and try to start afresh from the grassroots level.- Source K.Kabilan - Malaysiakini

Reduan Abdullah Banned

FELDA United head coach Reduan Abdullah has been banned 12 months and fined RM4,000 for criticising the FA of Malaysia.
In a decision that is bound to attract criticism, FAM's disciplinary board (DB) meted out the punishment in response to Reduan's assertion that the national body had failed to monitor the fitness tests at the state and club levels.Players have to pass the fitness test in order to get their playing license.The issue blew up after only three players passed a National Sports Institute fitness test prior to Malaysia's Asian Cup qualifier against the United Arab Emirates last month. "We suspended him one year and fined him RM4,000 for hitting out at FAM openly. He had many channels of communication to deal with the matter," said Kamaruddin Abdullah, who chaired the DB, yesterday.
General secretary Lt Jen (R) Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad said FAM had informed all teams in the pre-season that the fitness benchmark of 2008 would be maintained for 2009."How can Reduan claim to not know the benchmark when we had informed all teams? We do send our officials to monitor the fitness test but the onus is also on the teams to ensure that players meet the requirements," said Azzuddin.Reduan said he would appeal the decision."I will definitely appeal as what I said was constructive and meant to help develop football," said the former international.Meanwhile, Datuk Soh Chin Aun and Lt Col (R) Kamaruddin Sakhari have been asked to appear before the board to explain remarks made against referees.Chin Aun is the deputy chairman of the referees board while Kamaruddin heads the department.

Feb 25, 2009

Frustrated referees want meeting with FAM president

SOME national referees, fed-up with Lt Col (Rtd) Kamaruddin Sakhari - the head of their department - are seeking an audience with FA of Malaysia president Sultan Ahmad Shah to vent their frustration. The referees department, since last year, has come under fire from the media for the unprofessional way it has dealt with some of its members. This year, some referees whose credentials are questionable, have been assigned to local league matches. Appointments of match commissioners and referees inspectors have also been criticised. "We are sick and tired with FAM (for not looking into the matter). We have complained on numerous occasions and have even written to FAM, but until today we have not received any feedback, and the same person is allowed to manage the department," said a current Fifa referee who did not want to be identified. Things took a turn for the worse when a Singapore official, who is also an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) staff member, was appointed as the match commissioner for a recent Premier League match. Also, there were appointments of referees which were not justified, not to mention officials arriving late for matches. All this has been very frustrating for some referees. The late Nazri Abdullah, who was also the FAM referee's committee chairman, had expressed his disappointment and had met with FAM general secretary Lt Jen (rtd) Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad and informed him that the department had to be revamped. Even referees committee deputy chairman Datuk Soh Chin Aun agreed that the head of the referees department cannot be doing as he pleases. "We have rules and regulations and that must be followed. We want to progress," said Chin Aun. Despite Chin Aun's assurance that something will be done regarding the matter, there are unhappy individuals who contacted Timesport to express their disappointment. It is understood that about 70 referees have signed a letter of protest which is expected to be delivered to the FAM president next week.

Feb 20, 2009

FAM shortlists Rajagopal for Laos task

K. RAJAGOPAL has led a somewhat charmed life in the corridors of the FA
of Malaysia but one suspects his end is near.
As expected, the FAM's technical committee has decided to recommend to
the council that Rajagopal, currently in charge of the national Under-19
squad, be given the Under-23 squad.
He is also expected to be the interim national team coach as FAM has,
despite having shortlisted three candidates, decided to advertise the
post but Rajagopal's fate will be decided by the Under-23 squad's
performance in the Laos Sea Games in December.
FAM is targetting gold as it believes Rajagopal will have a strong
squad at his disposal.
"The coach will have 16 players from the previous squad and some
players from Young Tigers (Under-19) are also expected to make the grade.
Therefore, the target remains as previously decided, which is a gold
medal," said FAM deputy president Datuk Seri Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad after
chairing the five-hour technical committee meeting yesterday.
Rajagopal will be assisted by former international Khan Hung Meng while
Ong Kim Swee, the current national Under-18 coach, will take over the
Young Tigers, who currently lead the Premier League.
Redzuan said FAM is determined to have a strong squad for the Laos Sea
Games and that is why (National Sports Institute director general) Datuk
Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz has been included in the technical committee. We
don't want the players to lack anything."
There is also a strong possibility that FAM will defer naming a coach
for the senior team given the fact that there aren't any major
international assignments this year.
Although Malaysia are still involved in the 2011 Asian Cup qualifier,
the 5-0 thrashing by the United Arab Emirates means the campaign is
virtually over and Rajagopal may be asked to blood the Under-23 squad,
with the inclusion of several seniors, for the remaining matches and the
friendly against English champions Manchester United in July.
Redzuan also virtually confirmed that the national coach will be a
"We have shortlisted three candidates (from 12 who applied) and we will
continue to advertise the position and see whether there are any more
applications. However, the FAM exco will decide soon and he will be a
local coach."
That makes sense, considering FAM's financial standing.
A local may cost FAM RM20,000 a month but a foreigner will expect
between RM50,000 and RM70,000, which FAM can't afford.
Redzuan said the coaching teams at the Bukit Jalil and Bandar Penawar
Sports Schools have been revamped while former Asian Football
Confederation (AFC) technical director Lim Kim Chon has been appointed as
FAM's youth director. Kim Chon was chosen ahead of Khaidir Buyong and
Mustakim Omar.

Feb 18, 2009

Khalid going great guns

KHALID Jamlus seems to have found his scoring touch again but this time for Kelantan and he is as deadly as ever. The former Perak striker was on target just 30 seconds into Tuesday's Malaysia Super League match against Pahang at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan which Kelentan won 5-1. Ziarul Fitri Ishak added a second in the ninth minute before Mohd Badri Radzi and Indra Putra Mahayuddin found the net in the 61st and 62nd minutes respectively. Khalid, who is trying to regain his place in the national team, sealed the win with his second goal in the 70th minute. Pahang's consolation goal was scored by Hasmizan Kamarodin in the 25th minute. Kelantan, after several seasons in the backwaters of Malaysian football, are back with a vengeance and controlled a major part of Tuesday's match. It would be fair to say that if the east coast side keep playing the way they have been, they could be title contenders. "I am glad that I have found a good club to play for and the team work is excellent," said Khalid yesterday. "We have an excellent coach (Peter Butler) and I think we will be able to fight for the title if we can stay focused." Khalid also said that he wants to revive his career and hopes playing with Kelantan will help him achieve that. "I still have a few more years left to play football, and I know that for as long as I train and work hard, I can succeed," he said. The 2002 Golden Boot winner added: "I hope my hard work will get me a national call up. I know I still can contribute towards the team. Maybe in the past I may have made some mistakes but things are different now." Kelantan, who were docked three points by the FA of Malaysia on Jan 3 for a technical default, take on second placed Selangor on Feb 28.

Feb 17, 2009

FAM needs drastic action to ensure change

THE Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) technical committee meets
tomorrow to decide on vital matters regarding the state of football in
Topping the agenda, the technical committee, which is chaired by FAM
deputy president Datuk Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad, must identify a coach for
the Under-23 squad. The grapevine has it that K. Rajagopal, who will be
in charge of Malaysia's campaign in Laos, has been tipped for the post.
But rumours have it that Rajagopal, presently the coach of the Under-19
squad better known as the Young Tigers, prefers to remain at his present
position. The team presently head the Premier League table.
Should Rajagopal move up the ranks and take over coaching of the
Under-23 squad on a permanent basis, Ong Kim Swee, who presently is in
charge of the Under-18 squad, will coach the Young Tigers. The technical
committee is also expected to make its recommendations to the national
team management committee, which is chaired by Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, on
various other appointments.
FAM has yet to name a candidate for the vital youth director's post.
This is an area that has been lacking in many aspects which has resulted
in poor development at the grassroots level.
A leading candidate for the post is former national player and current
Bayern Munich Under-17 coach Lim Teong Kim, who recently submitted a plan
on the structure of youth development.
Whether or not FAM can afford to hire Teong Kim is a question only the
finance committee, chaired by the president, can answer.
The committee will also thrash out the matter regarding the technical
structure that has been sorely lacking and serious work needs to be done
in that particular department.
Whatever the outcome of tomorrow's meeting, it will have a huge bearing
on how the latest merger involving FAM, the Sports Ministry and Education
Ministry, will progress.

Feb 16, 2009

FAM seeks candidates to privatise MSL

THE grapevine has it that the FA of Malaysia is seeking out prospective
candidates as it contemplates privatising the Malaysian Super League
The MSL, FAM has rather belatedly found, is draining its resources and
it feels its attention should be on the national teams.
Whether it can get anybody to bid is another thing altogether,
considering the quality of the MSL.
B. Sathianathan lost his job as national coach when he slammed the MSL
as "not football" and just days later, Terengganu's Ken Worden described
his players as "schoolboys."
Most players, after six match days, are still struggling with their
fitness and the discerning Malaysian public, fed on a staple of European
football, is staying home and leaving most stadiums near empty.
It is against this backdrop that FAM is seeking to privatise the MSL
and in the meantime, the show goes on.
Though some - treble winners Kedah especially - have started on a shaky
note, it won't be long before the MSL takes its normal shape.
Selangor look like genuine contenders this season while Kedah will find
it hard to regain the title as they have yet to come to terms with the
departure of their foreign players.
Kedah beat surprise package KL Plus 1-0 in their last match but whether
they can regain the consistency that was their forte last season remains
to be seen.
Selangor, however, should have no problems collecting another three
points against UPB-MyTeam tonight as the gloss has disappeared from the
reality TV side.
But MyTeam can, at least, take credit for bringing some fresh air and
ideas into a league that doesn't have any.

Feb 15, 2009

Kedah brimming with confidence

DEFENDING Malaysian Super League (MSL) champions Kedah, who have won two straight matches, take on Kuala Muda Naza tomorrow at the Darulaman Stadium in Alor Star. Kedah, who edged Perlis 1-0 at the Utama Stadium on Saturday, are looking for another win to improve their standings. "Somehow we have moved up from second last position to ninth, but we have a long way to go yet. The players are coming along well but have taken some time to gel," said Kedah coach Azraai Khor Abdullah. Last week, playing at home, Kedah beat KL Plus 2-0, and Azraai believes his players will improve and be able to defend their title. "I have said it from the beginning that anything can happen in football. We started slow, we dropped some points but we are now on the right track. We just have to remain focused and be positive," added Azraai. Current leaders Selangor, who hammered KL Plus FC 3-1 at the KLFA Stadium on Saturday, take on third from bottom UPB MyTeam at the Shah Alam Stadium. Selangor, coached by K. Devan, have been gaining momentum and a win will strengthen their position at the top. Kelantan, after a long absence from top flight football, are back and edged neighbours Terengganu 3-2 in a close match at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium on Saturday. Kelantan take on Pahang at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan tomorrow.

Selangor regain top spot

SELANGOR hit the summit of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) after beating KL Plus 3-1 at the KLFA Stadium in Cheras yesterday. The loss was KL Plus' second consecutive after last week's 2-1 loss to defending champions Kedah at the Darulaman Stadium. National midfielder Amri Yahyah scored a brace in the 28th and 50th minute, while Amirulhadi Zainal netted the third in the 75th minute. Norhafiz Zamani Misbah scored KL Plus' only goal in the 59th minute. The win was Selangor's fifth this season. "It was a good win for us, the players worked very hard and played to the plan, we are on the right track," said Selangor's coach K.Devan. * AT the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium, Kelantan defeated Terengganu 3-2 to move second. * NEGRI Sembilan drop to third in the table after a 1-0 loss to Perlis at the Utama Stadium in Kangar. * AT the Petaling Jaya Stadium, Kedah continued their winning run by beating UPB MyTeam 1-0 thanks to a Mohd Faizal Abu Bakar cracker. * AT the Jcorp Stadium, Johor lost 1-0 to Perak with the goal coming from Razali Kandasamy in the 39th minute.

Feb 11, 2009

Sathinathan told to explain

Alimuddin: Full support for schools

THE Ministry of Education's (MOE) Under-14 and Under-17 football competitions begin this Saturday where 15 teams in each tournament with be battling it out for the next six months. But many uncertainties have surfaced from the tournaments that are in their second year. From statistics given at a press conference yesterday which was attended by MOE director general Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom, it is believed that monitoring was poor and that the players lacked basic skills and techniques. Last year, out of 660 players the technical staff identified 20 players from the Under-17 competition and 30 from the Under-14, from which only two players from each age group made it to the national squad. The figures are discouraging when one considers that close to RM2.1 million was spent by the MOE to organise the competitions, while 100 Plus contributed another RM 1 million. This year RM2.8 million will be spent to organise the competitions. "We have given football priority compared to other sports, and we are working very closely with the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and we hope to be able to work out the details on the grassroots soon. "The MOE-Ministry of Sports-FAM joint working committee will meet to discuss the areas that need attention," said Alimuddin at the launch of the 100Plus-Ministry of Eduction Football League. In response to a question if sports development in schools was in a moribund state, Alimuddin said: "I don't agree that sports in schools is in such a state. "We at the ministry are giving full support in terms of infrastructure, finance and human resources, but of course at times we face problems when the physical education teacher is promoted or transferred. But that is a very small problem." Alimuddin went on to say that only the best players from this year's competition will represent the country in the Under-17 World Youth Cup the qualifying rounds of which start in January, 2010. "It is everyone's responsibility to see that football does well in schools. Even parents play important roles as schools alone cannot do the job," he said. Meanwhile, FAM general secretary Lt Jen (R) Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad confirmed that professional coaches will be hired to manage football activities in the respective football schools in the states. "Once our proposal has been endorsed by the Cabinet Committee for Sports, we will be hiring professionals to coach in the football academy in each state. "We need funds to do this and once this is implemented, students will receive good guidance and technical support," said Azzuddin.

Feb 10, 2009

Azraai's Catch-22 situation

KEDAH coach Azraai Khor Abdullah (pic) had better expect the call for it, if it already hasn't, will surely come - the one offering him the job of national football coach. It shouldn't surprise him for it is only natural that the FA of Malaysia makes the offer to the most successful local coach in recent history. So successful that he guided Kedah to back-to-back trebles, raising his stock considerably, but the former national player has a crucial decision to make - to take the offer or say no. It is a job every local coach should aspire for but for the fact that FAM is in the market for a sixth national coach since 2000. Azraai has been on FAM's radar for a while now and he was offered the Under-23 squad preparing for the Laos Sea Games. Azraai declined as he felt K. Rajagopal should have a shot as he knows the players better. However, this is the national team job and with FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah having stated he prefers a local to replace the sacked B. Sathianathan, it will be difficult for Azraai to say no. If anything, he is a victim of his own success, one that he knows he won't be able to repeat with the national team, especially in the Asian Cup qualifier. Malaysia's campaign is as good as over, thanks to the 5-0 thrashing by the United Arab Emirates, as far as the 2011 Asian Cup is concerned and a more reasonable target for Azraai, should he decide to take the job, will be the Merdeka Tournament in August. Even that could be difficult and Azraai must, and he has to take the job for there are no other candidates and hiring a foreigner will be a waste of money, tell FAM to set reasonable targets. It is Azraai, and not FAM, who must dictate terms for at the end of the day, it will be the coach who gets the boot

Feb 6, 2009

Ismail Sabri okays ex-internationals

SPORTS Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is expected to face resistance but he is set to appoint former internationals into the several committees that are to be formed as part of the plan to save Malaysian football. Ismail Sabri has already informed the FA of Malaysia of his intention via the delegation led by deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin on Thursday. Some quarters are said to be unhappy with the move but Ismail Sabri has a word of consolation for them - he is aware that some former internationals may be in for personal gain. "I have identified a few areas where we can utilise the ex-internationals. Basically, we want more footballers to be involved in the game and I will be meeting them again soon," said Ismail Sabri. "We will be setting up several committees within the ministry to oversee football's progress and the ex-internationals can help us and FAM." But he warned the ex-internationals that he will not tolerate individuals who are only looking for their own gain. "We only want people who are sincere in bringing success to football. If some people think that they can be part of the committee and then seek contracts, I think they have come to the wrong place. "Every proposal will be carefully studied before they are implemented." Ismail Sabri also stressed the government is not interfering in FAM. "We are only assisting FAM in development. We are not taking over anything from them, even though we will be managing the Young Tigers. "At the end of the day, it will FAM's call as to which tournaments they will compete in and who will be heading the team." The community league which was mooted by the former Sports Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said is expected to kick off next month. Football will be played in 220 constituencies for a period of three months before an inter-district competition takes place. "At the state assembly level, the respective committees will manage the leagues and the state FA's will only get involved when the league moves into the district competition mode. "This will help us to save some cost as we don't want to be paying RM70,000 for match officials."

Feb 5, 2009

Ministry to adopt Young Tigers

THE Sports Ministry will adopt the Young Tigers in an effort to relieve the Football Association of Malaysia of its financial obligations. The move will see FAM saving close to RM3 million annually which can be used in other areas. It is learnt that this exercise will go on for at least three years. "The Sports Ministry will take over the management of the Young Tigers from now on. We have a new management and coaching team to take care of the squad. With this move, FAM will just have to concentrate on the national team," said Sports Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob in Putrajaya yesterday. "We want to give the Young Tigers more international exposure, we want to send our players for attachments, but all this must be approved by the Cabinet Committee for Sports." It is also learnt that former national player Ong Kim Swee will be the new Young Tigers coach. Kim Swee is currently taking care of the national Under-18 side. "The Sports Ministry will also take over the grassroot development programme. We will use a number of ex-internationals to help in this programme and we will get FAM to coordinate this. We want to get as much help as possible in implementing the programmes." Ismail Sabri also mentioned that a new steering committee comprising the Ministry Of Education, Ministry of Sports and FAM, will be formed to look into areas that can help FAM resolve its grassroots problem. "We are forming a new committee so that all the parties can work hand-in-hand to overcome any problems and challenges. We at the ministry are only concerned about the development programme because that is where the problem is," said Ismail Sabri. Ismail Sabri also confirmed that a district league will start in April and will be managed by the ministry, while the football community league will kick off in May. "We are going to sit down and look at the structure at youth level, the coaching syllabus, certification, the sports science aspects and many other areas,"added Ismail Sabri.

Feb 4, 2009

Khairy-led delegation to meet minister

SPORTS Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob will meet a delegation lead by FAM deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin today at the Sports Ministry in Putrajaya to thrash out the ills plaguing Malaysian football. It is learnt that FAM, among other things, will propose a structured development programme, request for a youth director, the Sports Ministry to absorb some of the national teams especially at the youth level, the usage of sports science experts, to base some youth players and teams in Europe and to revive the football academy. FAM will also be seeking a minimum of RM18 million a year to implement the programmes. "We are not going to give away the money without any targets," said Ismail Sabri. "We also have to be fair to other sports. Of course football is a national agenda, but we must also be very realistic as far as money is concerned. "Whilst we want to help FAM we must also look at the realities that are facing us, we must look at the structure and see if we have enough resources to help," he added. When Ismail Sabri met the 72 former internationals on Monday, many requested for a change in the state FAs and even within FAM. They even said that they are willing to conduct clinics and work with the Sports Ministry in the area of development. Former international Khaidir Buyong said: "There is no technical people involved in the youth committee, even technical committee, most of them are all administrators. What is the point when even we are not included in the committees." As far as resources are concerned, the question remains, will FAM listen to and agree to the suggestions made by the Sports Ministry. "They should listen to what we have to say and what we have found out from our discussion with the former internationals whose experience cannot be overlooked. There are numerous issues plaguing Malaysian football," said Ismail Sabri.

Mohammed's decision on AFC House move unpopular

THE decision by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammed Hammam to relocate AFC House from Malaysia to another country is unwise and does not reflect the other members' stand, according to Federation of International Football Association (Fifa) vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Chung Mong-joon. Mong-joon, speaking on the matter for the first time since it was raised last September, said Mohammed should have considered the history and size of the Asian continent before making the announcement. A decision on the relocation will be made at the AFC Congress in November. "I wonder where he got the idea. Most of the time, Mohammed seems to be acting on his own. Many member associations are not in favour of this move and yet he insists, so we will have to wait and see what happens. I believe Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah is dealing with the matter," said Mong-joon, who is also president of the Korea Football Association (KFA). Mong-Joon, who is the chairman of Hyundai Heavy Industries, made it clear he is unhappy with the way AFC is managing its administration. On Monday, the Bahrain Football Association (BFA) nominated its president Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa for the Fifa executive committee member seat in the upcoming elections on May 8. Shaikh Salman is currently chairman of the AFC disciplinary committee and deputy chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee. Knowing that Shaikh Salman will be challenging Mohammed, the Qatari Football Association has proposed a change to the AFC statutes by stating that any member who wishes to challenge for the Fifa executive seat must serve a full term (four years) in AFC.

Feb 3, 2009

Zolkples to investigate claim

THE FA of Malaysia claims the National Sports Council has only disbursed RM4 million of the RM12.5 million it was promised while the government agency claims about RM8 million has already been paid out. As the two sort out the issue, reliable sources confirm that coaches attached to the football academies have not been paid their wages in months. The wages are supposed to come from the RM12.5 million. "Some of us have not been paid for the last one year. We have been asked to be patient and we have continued doing our job but for how long are we supposed to wait?" asked one coach yesterday. "I hope the sports minister (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob) will look into our plight." NSC director general Datuk Zolkples Embong disputed FAM deputy president Datuk Seri Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad's RM4 million figure. "We have paid close to RM8 million and I don't know why they said only RM4 million has been disbursed," said Zolkples. "I have to check this out but there were instances when we paid contractors and certain service providers directly. "We also absorbed certain costs such as air flight tickets, hotel accommodation and technical expenses so the figure could be more. I will look into it." Redzuan, after the FAM exco meeting on Sunday, revealed the RM4 million figure. He said the fact that NSC had not disbursed the full sum was the reason why FAM could not conduct any youth programmes for the year. Part of the RM12.5 million was also earmarked for the Young Tigers (national Under-19 team), which is costing FAM about RM3 million a year. However, it is learnt that NSC stopped funding the team after it learnt the Young Tigers will not be competing in the Laos Sea Games. Still, it would be best for Zolkples to investigate and reveal the full sum that has already been given to FAM.

Feb 2, 2009

Go back to school, FAM told

THE message was loud and clear - football has to go back to school, district leagues have to be revived and administrators should not meddle in technical matters. The FA of Malaysia should, even if it doesn't want to, listen for making the call were 72 former internationals. The one listening was Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and it will be interesting to see what transpires when he meets the FAM delegation tomorrow. It was only right that the legendary Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat started the ball rolling. "Our players are no longer capable like before and we have to start from the schools in order to achieve success. We have to make sure that the best coaches work with the children," said Ghani, known as "Raja Bola" in his heydays. "Even free tickets can't entice my friends to watch Malaysian matches and this shows just how bad our football is." Former Selangor player K. Gunalan was critical of the Bukit Jalil Sports School players. "I was attached to the Bukit Jalil Sports School for one month and to be honest, the players in the school will not bring us any results. "They are technically poor despite having trained for so long and what then can we expect from the national coaches?" asked Gunalan. The meeting though was not only about slamming FAM. "FAM should not consider us as threats. We are genuinely interested in helping football and we can be used to train players at the grassroots," said Mubin Mokhtar. Former national coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim concurred. "The problem is that from the 600-plus players in the M-League, only 50 can be considered for the national team. This is the reason why we are always relying on the same players. "The reason why the same players are picked is because technically, they are better but we know that their level is not good enough at the international level. "But these are the players coming through the ranks and we can only get better players if we have a solid structure at the grassroots." Bakri Ibni said district leagues were as important as a solid structure in schools. "Players need to play and they need to play at all levels. This is an area we have totally neglected and it must be revived," said Bakri. He said FAM should also not make it difficult for the ex-internationals with certification demands. "We are there to serve but if there are too many clauses, most just decide to not bother." Ismail Sabri said he would forward the suggestions to the FAM delegation, which will be led by deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin. "All the ideas given today (yesterday) will be presented to FAM and the discussion has to be a two-way affair. FAM has to listen to what we have to say as well," said Ismail Sabri.

Feb 1, 2009

FAM Terminate Coach Sathianathan, Team Manager Chin Aun

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) today decided to terminate the contracts of national head coach B. Sathianathan and national team manager Datuk Soh Chin Aun.

FAM deputy president Datuk Redzuan Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad said the termination of Sathianathan and Chin Aun's contracts was to pave the way for new faces to head the national football team.

"The FAM executive committee meeting chaired by FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah were unanimous in their decision to terminate Sathianathan and Chin Aun's services. Sathianathan will be given a month's notice while Chin Aun's termination takes effect immediately," Redzuan told reporters at Wisma FAM after a three-hour meeting here today.

Redzuan however, did not reveal the actual reasons for the termination of the duo's contracts but football critics feel the 0-5 defeat to UAE in the Asian Cup qualifiers last Wednesday and Sathianathan's comment about the M-League could have weighed heavily against him.

"The post of the new head coach will be discussed soon by the management committee for the national team headed by Sultan Ahmad Shah," he said.

Redzuan added that FAM had identified a list of local coaches to replace Sathianathan who had guided the national Under-23 squad to win the Merdeka Cup in 2007 before being appointed head coach of the senior team in September 2007.

As for the post of team manager, Redzuan said Datuk Capt. Gulzar Mohamad, one of the four FAM vice presidents, would replace Chin Aun who was actually a stand in manager for FAM deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar.

"Khairy was initially appointed team manager but since he could not fully commit himself, he had sought Chin Aun's assistance," he said.

He added that the committee also decided in today's meeting that seven states and clubs that still owed players and coaches RM620,000 in arrears as wages, must settle the outstanding amount by Dec 31 or face drastic action.

"If they failed to settle the arrears, FAM will take drastic action, including barring them from competing in the M-League next season," he said.

FAM has also picked a seven-member delegation to meet Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Wednesday to discuss the direction and future of Malaysian football, he said.