Malaysia? A Pain to Watch

I DON’T want to say much about Malaysia’s 1-0 defeat to Qatar in an Asian Cup qualifier at Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday.

The Qataris, superior technically and tactically, could have wrapped the contest by half time if not for at least two superb saves by Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.

This was after the visitors gained full control of the match in the first 30 minutes as the Malayan Tigers had hardly any possession of the ball.

Good for Khairul, who also did reasonably well in the 1-0 away defeat to Bahrain last Friday where Malaysia were ultra defensive.

This despite knowing fully well that they needed points in Manama to enhance their chances of making the finals in Australia in 2015.

That was not football as Malaysia hardly executed that many counter-attacks.

Some were pointing out how well the Malaysians defended, but the end result said otherwise.

K. Rajagopal’s men only came slightly… yes… only slightly alive after Bahrain had taken the lead.

It was an awful performance, to say the least.

On Tuesday, Rajagopal did start with a rather offensive line-up, but for 30 minutes they were chasing shadows.


The writings were already on the wall during the AFF Cup last year.

Malaysia were lacking ideas, so predictable (no element of surprises) and loved to employ long-ball tactics which made the opponents’ job easier.

They were also using speedy wingers like S. Kunanlan who would run and run – like a sprinter – and deliver crosses.

A game of hope as a teammate might be there to somehow connect to find the goals, or an own goal, perhaps.

There were not many passes played. Long balls, instead, was the name of the game.

The sad part was that the team could play a passing game as evident on some occasions.

Why didn’t they mix it? Long balls and a passing game as well to ‘confuse’ the opponents.

In recent months, some fans have been questioning Rajagopal’s choice of players.

As coach, he has every right to choose who he wants.

True… but Safiq Rahim as captain? He does not even deserve to be in the starting line-up let alone be the captain.

What was he doing during the matches against Bahrain and Qatar? Nothing much, actually.

There must be a better choice in the squad as skipper; a player with better quality and command as well.

Sorry Safiq.

And why is Rajagopal reluctant to play the highly-talented Nazmi Faiz more often? Perhaps because he can hold the ball and can execute defence splitting passes?

Nazmi is one of the best, if not the best offensive-minded midfielder in the country at the moment. And this is the best stage for him to gather valuable experience. Remember, he is only 19.

Oh yes… nowadays the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), Rajagopal and some of the players just can’t take criticism.

They are so-called the experts. The press and fans should just write and watch matches respectively. They are supposed to keep quiet even if the team play terribly.

However, these ‘experts’ must also realise they are representing Malaysia and naturally face this possibility of being criticised if they don’t do well.

They must have accountability if something goes wrong. They can’t be washing their hands just like that.

A national coach is paid high wages, for instance. Why can’t he be criticised? Many would love to do the job without having to face criticism. Good life, not much pressure.

And striker Safee Sali, who has not been performing, fired back at a high-ranking government official – National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong – for criticising the team.

Zolkples, like it or not, has every right to criticise the team if they don’t do well.

Safee might as well play in some kampong leagues or tournaments if he does not want people to criticise the team.

Again, don’t forget he is representing Malaysia.

Even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been criticised for their performances.

In the 1980s and 1990s, national players, national coaches and FAM had been criticised often by the press and fans alike.

But they took it in their strides, most of the times.

A change on the cards for Malaysia maybe?

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