How to save Malaysian football — Syamim Hariri

JANUARY 8 — Being that our football team is ranked 171 in the world, and when you look at who is at 170, which is Timor Leste and when even Swaziland is ranked higher than you, then one starts to wonder is the moniker of “Harimau Malaya” really appropriate?

Despite being a nation crazy about football, both local and international football have their own followers... this nation seems to be stuck in a rut.

China is ranked 82. India is ranked 163.

Maybe if we had a team made up exclusively of Malaysian Chinese, could that help our rankings? Or what if we built a team made up exclusively of Malaysian Indians, could our rank be better that 171?

Let me state that I am no racist. I am just throwing around ideas in the hope that we can further improve our standings. We need to spot a constant and work on that.

There have been so many suggestions and ideas thrown around and implemented, but nothing seems to work. Ten feet passes are still misplaced and most of the keepers are still five feet and five inches.

Is it the weather? Could it be that being in the tropics mean that we are handicapped compared to those who enjoy a fairly cooler temperament? But this still doesn’t explain why African nations that enjoy similar weather are leaps and bounds ahead of us in the rankings.

Could it be the food? Could that be it?

Let’s take a look at badminton and squash. Now we seem to do well in these. Take a look at diving where in the last Olympics, a silver medal was won by one of us. Now look at these three sports, and tell me the constant factor.

I should stress that I am no racist but what I see is that all the athletes are non-Malays. This is my observation.

Going further down, we can either say that Malays are not interested in these three sports or in my opinion, the most obvious one is, they couldn’t cut it competing with their non-Malay counterparts.

Then we go back to football. I would like to ask whether the make-up of the national football team is under the NEP or the Bumi agenda? Why are there so many Malays in the team? What happened to the rest of the Chinese and Indians?

What about the local football leagues? All I see are boat loads of Syafiqs and Mazlans but where are the Chongs, the Tans and the Kumars?

Again, don’t call me a racist. I am merely trying to think of something different. I don’t think I am stretching it when I say that the make-up of the national football team is often time like 95-99 per cent made up of Malays.

This has always equalled bad rankings. Maybe there is a need to change this. There is no need to be radical in making a 100 per cent team compromising of Malaysian Chinese or Malaysian Indians, but maybe there is a need to maybe make it 50-50 in terms of numbers?

The way I see it, this nation is blessed with three very powerful races that need each other to succeed on the field but only one is given the chance and this is why we seem to constantly fail.

I am also of the opinion that if our national football team were to be made exclusively of Malaysian Chinese and Indians, this too would also fail. Then one can bring up my earlier point about the rankings.

But it has to be taken in context. The Chinese of China have never tasted sambal belacan or nasi lemak and the Indians of India have never tasted those either. So from a biological point, the make-up of the Malaysian Chinese and Malaysian Indian is already somewhat different from their counterparts.

Back to my point of why having the three races in the team will equal success. The Indians are hardworking, they are tough and have stamina. They should be defenders. And plus Indians are generally lankier in stature. This means that they should be keepers or goalies too.

Then you have the Chinese. They are smart and good at spotting opportunities. They should be the midfielders. The whole midfield should be occupied and made up off the Chinese. We will definitely see lots of through-passes and no more of that crappy 10 feet misplaced backward pass that we see so often today.

Then we have the Malays. I think the Malays should be strikers. The main quality of the Malay is that they are patient. This would result in them being patient while play is being built up and not being angry at their teammates if the ball doesn’t come their way.

I think we need more unconventional ways in trying to treat our football. Malaysia is not like any other country in the world. It is unique in the most peculiar of reasons.

Maybe we should try something else. And maybe, just maybe, we should drop the whole “Harimau Malaya” thing. It makes me cringe and I think all the tigers in the world are not happy to be associated with our national football team. It's giving the tigers a bad name.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.