Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Nothing is easier than the expenditure of public money. It doesn't appear to belong to anyone. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody.

I can write on and on about this subject, but nothing you write, if you hope to be good, will ever come out as you first hoped.

Depending on how one looks at it, how one intends to digest it, Malaysian sports is still colonised despite the nation gaining independence some 52 years ago. What started off as bringing in foreign coaches has now moved on to something else, managing events in the country.

From football, athletics and tennis, we have seen an increase of foreign invasion in terms of organising events. It is truly being a case of the prophet not believed on his own land as the politicians seem to be more inclined by these so called foreign expertise, leaving crumbs to the locals.

What do these foreign experts have that Malaysians lack?

Let's roll back the years to 1975 World Cup hockey. We never had to rely on foreign help to organise that event, nor did we get any foreigners to play a lead role in the 2002 edition.

The same applied to the various Sea Games, 1998 Commonwealth Games and a host of other events held in our nation. So why is that all of sudden, this government of ours has the tendency to do mega millions deals with foreigners?

Why are the same politicians not fighting to increase the budget for sports development in the country, spending lavishly on mega events on the pretext of promoting the country. We have the Formula 1, is that not good enough to promote the country?

What is the NSC budget for sports per year, a mere RM150 million and that is what it costs to just roll out the Malaysian F1 car.

Are there any politicians who are sincere in helping sports in the country? Or are they in their positions to help certain personalities make it big before their own political term ends.

We are treating foreigners as mortals in sports despite the fact that Malaysians have what it takes to organise mega events, as has been the case since the seventies until the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

Suddenly a few years ago, the influx of foreign promoters of events began and all of a sudden we find Malaysian companies in the background, merely pawns if we playing chess, with the foreign leigon becoming increasingly bold in staging multi million dollar (rather I should say ringgit) events in a nation that professes the notion of 1 Malaysia.

My parting words on this subject, those who are too smart to engage in sports are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.

Monday, September 28, 2009


The story of the owners of the Kuala Lumpur Dragon's team for the Asean Basketball League is a true testimony of the 1 Malaysia concept being championed by the Prime Minister.

This is because the four owners of the team, set to make its debut in the ABL on October 13, come from different races, Dato Tony Fernandes, Dato Robin Tan, Dato Wira Dani Daim and Ruben Emir Gnanalingam.

With the exception of Dato Wira Dani, the other three had sponsored MyTeam FC when the reality side made their debut in the Premier League in 2007, finishing as runner-up and thus earning promotion to the Super League.

And three of the owners come from successful fathers, Wira Dani being the son of statesman Tun Daim Zainuddin, Ruben the son of Tan Sri Gnanalingam and Robin being the son of Tan Sri Vincent Tan.

The KL Dragons will play their matches in Kuala Lumpur and are looking towards hiring Jamal Brown and Brad Bridgewater as foreign players in their march towards the title of the inaugural ABL.

Co-owner Datuk Wira Dani Daim said his team has targetted a top four finish and had roped in two players from the United States to beef up the squad.

"We have already signed Jamal Brown and in the midst of getting the services of the player. The rest will be local players while National coach Goh Cheng Huat take charge of the team," he said.

Ironically Ruben is the only personality when does not have a title and the Executive Director of Westports was involved with MyTeam FC before his foray into basketball.

When asked his inclination towards basketball, despite the fact that his father Tan Sri Gnanalingam had just a few days earlier spoke with admiration on football, Ruben begged to differ with his dad.

"It is not just about basketball as a sport but I view it as a whole package, right from an investment to being entertaining," said Ruben who is a die hard Liverpool fan.

"Malaysian football does not offer much hope and really I see it going no where in the current situation.

"Hopefully with the support we are putting into basketball, we will be able to generate an interest and we have a team that is capable of challenging for honours."

Ruben is not the only MyTeam official who has ventured into basketball for the current Team Manager of MyTeam FC, Yakub Hussaini has been appointed as the General Manager of the KL Dragons.

Yakub, who hails from Sarawak, started off with the reality show and went on to become the Assistant Manager of the club outfit in their debut in the Premier League in 2007.

"With the Malaysia Cup coming to an end, it will not be difficult to juggle between my two jobs as I find it as a challenge and will do my level best," said Yaks as he is fondly known.

"We have a fairly good side and hope the fans will get behind the team and hopefully we get off to a winning start."


To say that other sports will suffer the effects of sponsorship reduction due to the formation of the 1 Malaysian F1 team is not right.

For they will have to learn from the exploits from the F1 team as well as the Asean Basketball League and improve their approach towards sponsors, rather then waiting for handouts from sponsors as has been the practice in the past.

That is the conclusion of Dato Tony Fernandes when posed with the question that there was a possibility of traditional sponsors of Malaysian sports inclining towards the F1 venture at the expense of the more traditional sports.

"I do not think it is a question of the sponsors moving towards the F1 team just because we have our own team," said Tony when met at the naming of the title sponsors for the Asean Basketball League.

"Even in the basketball league we had to market it and make the sponsors believe in the objective and the return of investments."

"So really the situation today calls for a lot of hard work and the right strategy if you want people to part with their money. It is no longer a case of just knocking on doors of friends and hoping for some cash.

"The mindset of those in the national associations need to change and one just has to look at the Air Asia model in terms of looking at the bigger picture no matter how hopeless the cause may seem to be."

On the cost factor and the many speculations, with some even saying that RM1 billion was needed to fund the Malaysian F1 team participation, Tony scoffed at the suggestions.

"It is a costly thing - but good things cost of lot of money. I know there have been much speculations as to the actual cost of putting up the team," contends Tony.

"It will cost something in the region of RM150 million to get the car out onto the track for the first race and another RM350 million to last the whole season. What other figures you hear about have not come from me."

Tony said that it takes hard work to convince others to part with their money and in sponsorship it is always the case of approaching the same friends for money when it comes to sports. And this has to change if the sports organisations harbour hopes of convincing sponsors.

When I started my airline (Air Asia), it was with two planes and we gradually built it up to 82 planes - and now it's a wonderful brand, serving some 200 million of the Asean population," said Tony.

"My saying is that you pay for what you get: Formula One reaches enormous audiences, motivating enormous masses of people. There are not many sporting events that can create that, so the bottom line is that you pay for what you get.

"If you are successful the rewards will be 50 times more then the investment. The question is if we will be successful - that's on everybody's mind.

"I started my airline with $250,000 and everyone said 'he's nuts and mad'. So I got used to these kind of notions. I think we will have a good run and in years to come we will slowly build ourselves up."

Read the story about the ABL below

The first pan-ASEAN professional basketball league was officially launched Monday with organizers announcing the opening match between Indonesia's Satria Muda BritAma and the Philippine Patriots will be staged in Jakarta on Oct. 10.

Malaysian aviation tycoon Tony Fernandes launched the league, saying he in hopes to boost the sport in the 10 countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The ASEAN Basketball League will feature six professional teams from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and stretch from October through February.

Basketball is not very popular in most ASEAN countries, and only Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore already had professional teams, organizers said. All have national teams. Singapore entered a team in Australia's National Basketball League but withdrew after last season for financial reasons.

"I think that there is a lot of skeptics out there ... (but) this is a watershed moment for ASEAN sports," Fernandes, who heads regional budget carrier AirAsia, told reporters.

All teams will compete in a home and away league format with knockout stages until the final. The first Kuala Lumpur game is on Oct. 14 with the KL Dragons playing the Brunei Barracudas.

The Singapore Slingers and the Thailand Tigers are the other two teams. Fernandes said he hoped more Southeast Asian teams will join the league in 2010 to eventually expand it to some 20 teams.

He said the startup capital is some $10 million and U.S. company General Electric was the title sponsor for the next three years.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


When Malaysia decided to have its own team for Formula 1, I recalled the similarities between the two gentlemen, Paul Stoddart and Tony Fernandes, both with aviation backgrounds and both who held Malaysia close to their hearts.

Eight years after Malaysia’s initial foray into Formula !, we are making another attempt at it with an all local outfit. Having ad a first hand look at the factory of Minardi in UK, where I was given a piston of a Minardi car that snapped at 14,000RPM, I look forward to a chance to visit the Lotus outfit someday.

So read on what Stoddart said when I visited his outfit in December 2001, just two days after Chelsea humiliated Liverpool 4-1 at stamford Bridge.

Locating Paul Stoddart, the principal owner of the Minardi Formula 1 team, in England is no easy task. He had not replied the e-mail I sent him a week earlier.

But on the day I was due to fly back to Malaysia, the man himself got in touch with me and invited me over to his plant in Ledbury.


It was supposed to be a little country town where the Minardi headquarters was located. I didn't know the place existed and neither did the locals I asked.

But following the directions given by Stoddart, I found myself standing in front of the magnificent building that housed the Minardi outfit.

Ledbury, west of London, is wrapped in the mists of hundreds of years past. Just down the road at company headquarters, Australian Paul Stoddart is hoping to write his own history.

But with the ink on the contract still drying, Stoddart only had weeks to build what most teams take years to achieve. At this massive factory, he is quietly accumulating the machinery and the know-how to get into the big league.

It started with an aviation empire built partly on incredible good fortune and bad management in Australia. When the Australian Government sold off its VIP aircraft, Paul Stoddart was the buyer.

To his surprise, the deal came with spares worth millions!

Minardi was saved. And Australia had its first owner since Jack Brabham. With careful planning, a bit of luck and a few hundred million dollars, Minardi and Stoddart could one day swim in the champagne of Formula One success.

Stoddart admits the journey in Formula 1 will be a long and tedious process but he has set his long-term objectives. In 17 seasons Gian Carlo Minardi managed a couple of fourths and 28 points.

"I want to be the person that actually puts a Minardi driver on the podium," says Stoddart.

“You need a bit of luck but, more than that, you need the infrastructure and resources to get that podium when the chance comes along. I want to achieve that by 2003."

On why someone from the aviation industry is so taken up by motorsports, Stoddart says: "I saved the team from extinction as it deserved saving because of the tradition of over 17 years.

"And along the way we have become one eleventh, and later one twelfth, of Formula One. I think that is a pretty good position to be in as F1 is a business and to be one of the only 12 players is well worth the money we have actually spent.

"My long-term strategy is to get Minardi off the bottom. All I want, and I'm not greedy, is one podium finish."

One of the more difficult tasks for Stoddart has been to secure a reliable engine.

The partnership with Asiatech was on the cards for some time and so it did not come as a surprise but more as a relief to a team that has used outmoded Ford engines for too long.

While Stoddart was looking to major steps forward in 2002 in terms of performance, when he thought he had a chance at a Cosworth or Ferrari unit, the Asiatech deal has made him revise his opinion and aim at mid- grid respectability.

One thing the team will have, though, is more money. Malaysia's Alex Yoong, who is about to race a full season from the Australian Grand Prix onwards, has brought on board Magnum Corporation as sponsors.

Malaysia is coming into Formula One in a big way and Stoddart has taken steps to ensure a long-term relationship. He has the weight of the entire country behind him, a shrewd move for the future.

"We are going ahead with an academy for drivers in Malaysia.

"It will start with karts. The Malaysian government supports motorsport and you will find a graduation process from karts through the junior formulae to F3000 to find the next F1 driver.

"A lot of kids don't get a chance and to be honest it doesn't cost us the national debt to take an interest in a country that takes an interest
in us.

"The government isn't putting a penny into this, but they have facilitated introductions for us to companies that are happy to invest.

"Now it's time for us to give a little bit back. We do that through the two-seater programme and try to give a little bit more, because we need to.

"We need a niche. Why should somebody come to Minardi when they can go further up the grid?

"The answer is that we've got more to give."

When asked if cementing a relationship with Malaysia means turning his back on Australia, Stoddart said:

"Not at all. The problem with Australia is that they will probably only support the first driver to get into F1. It may well be Mark Webber. The multinationals, like Foster's, are all event sponsors."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gnanalingam's Biggest Regret

Westports executive chairman Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam fields the 10 questions posed to him by readers of THE STAR and I have picked the questions related to sports for the benefit of readers of this blog.

Maybe with FAM in such a position, Tan Sri G could be the man to help Malaysian football.

Happy 65th Birthday, Tan Sri. What are your biggest regrets and what haven’t you done which you would love to pursue?
– Angelina, Penang

Thank You Angelina. The one regret I have is 20 years ago, I should have picked 50 young Malaysians, 6 feet tall and groom them into becoming some of the best footballers in the world, especially since Ghana (Michael Esien), Ivory Coast (Didier Drogba) and Togo (Emmanuel Adebayor) can do it.

Today, I would have sold them to the European Leagues for £10 million each at least, and once in 4 years, I would re-assemble these 50 guys for the World Cup!

This would have been a great achievement since all Malaysians are football fanatics and would have cheered for 1Malaysia. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the funds at that time.

What does 1Malaysia mean to you? – Martin, PJ

For us Malaysians, when squash prodigy, Nicol David wins the world championship, we are all proud of her regardless of race, religion or age. That is 1Malaysia to me.

There were also few sporting events that we stood as 1Malaysia, namely the 1989 SEA Games when Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was the Minister of Sports, the 1998 Commonwealth Games as well as whenever we won the Thomas Cup in badminton.

At the RMC, I had friends like Azzat, Jui Leng and Gurdial Singh. It was an institution where 60% Malays, 30% Chinese and 10% Indians. That was 1Malaysia to me.

In United Malaysia, we tolerate other religions. In a Malaysian Malaysia, other religions are acceptable. To me, 1Malaysia is where we respect each other’s religion.

Personally speaking, I am a Hindu, my wife is a Buddhist, my son is a Muslim and my daughter is going to marry a Christian and I love them all. Perhaps, this is the ultimate 1Malaysia!

Gnanalingam’s prowess as a marketing guru is widely documented. But like many of his established peers in the elite circles of corporate Malaysia, the beginning was not easy. He almost dropped out of university following his father's demise in the mid 60s as someone needed to support the family.

But he held out on a limb and infallible traits such as persistence and perseverance.

He made his name as a marketing whiz after successful stints with Malaysian Tobacco Co (now British American Tobacco) and was appointed marketing director at the age of 34.

After a 19-year stint, nine as the marketing director Gnanalingam left Malaysian Tobacco Co to join Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) to reposition the station’s two channels. Although the task was considered impossible by many, he came out smelling like roses, having successfully pulled the company out of the rut it fell into as a result of stiff competition from TV3.

Gnanalingam also played a key role in the 1989 South East Asian Games held in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia as the host nation came out tops, and the profits amounted to more than RM16mil, surpassing the modest target of RM5mil set by the Government.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Lee Chong wei has been carrying a nagging knee injury and despite medical advice has been fielded in several tournaments after it was determined that the injury requires an operation.

So why has the Badminton Association of Malaysia chosen to send him when it was vital that he undergoes treatment. Was the decision made by the player, coach or BAM?

If what I hear is true, then Chong wei should be undergoing an operation soon. But why was it not done soon enough.

Read the report below on his exit at the Japan Open where many claim that it will be an easy title with Lin dan staying away.

After the Athens Olympics, two post mortems were carried out by the Sports Ministry, one by the Panel headed by Muralee Menon and Dato Seri Ibrahim Saad, while the other was commissioned to UPM Sports Unit.

While the Panel reports made it to the Cabinet (though only Ibrahim's report was sent), the UPM report was done without the knowledge of BAM, and I intend to publish the report here in due course, maybe then some in BAM will take notice that not all is rosy in Malaysian badminton.

World number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia failed to live up to his pre-match promise, losing to Indonesia’s Simon Santoso in the Japan Open badminton tournament on Thursday.

The top seed, who has been struggling with his old left knee injury, worked hard in the final game clawing back from 5-12 to 19-19 before finally surrendering 19-21, 21-15, 21-19 in the second round.

Lee, the champion here in 2007, quickly left the court for treatment to his knee without talking to reporters.

For Santoso, it was his biggest win so far, although he has beaten Lee three times when the Malaysian was ranked lower.

“When I took the lead in the final game, I slowed down a little bit, giving him the chance to fight back. But I was patient in the end and able to beat him,” said Santoso, ranked 16.

“He is one of the best players in the world, he’s currently the number one player. Patience was the key to my victory today.”

With the win, Santoso set up a clash against defending champion and teammate Soni Dwi Kuncoro, the winner over China’s Chen Long 21-19, 15-21, 21-14.


Unknown to many, outgoing FIFA Development Office Kuala Lumpur chief Windsor John Paul has acted in two movies.

The first was titled Deutschland Ein Sommermarchen, a documentary on the German national team's World Cup 2006 journey, all the way from boot camp in Sardinia to the 3rd-place play-of where Windsor made a 15 minutes appearance in the 2007 movie that was based on the 2006 World Cup held in Germany.

And in Goal 3, Windsor was once again featured, this time leading the two finalists out onto the pitch as the General Coordinator for the Final featuring France and Italy ( picture above shows the only Malaysian at the World Cup Final)

So could Windsor, who will be on a three-month leave beginning October 1 go into acting as a profession.

“I doubt I will make the grade in Hollywood nor Bollywood,” said Windsor.

“I have no regrets in leaving my current position. Sometimes you just need to have a change and for me the timing was right.

“Let’s not get carried away with my departure for no one person is bigger then the game and all I hope is that certain quarters stop making speculations as to why I left.

“Suffice to say I am happy with my decision and it was made on my free will, without any form of pressure.

“I am a professional, thus I know when its time to move on. I have served football without any personal interest and I will cherish the moments I had.”

Windsor, in his ever diplomatic style however refused to be drawn into talking about the possibility of joining the Football Association of Malaysia or even commenting about it.

“Who am I? Whatever I say or do will not change the landscape of football, be it in Malaysia or any other country,” was all Windsor was willing to say.

Windsor has indepth knowledge about FAM, not only did he work there but Windsor was instrumental in drawing up the Long Term Plan for FAM, a four year plan that sets out the direction of the national association inline with the guiding principles developed by FIFA.

The first Long Term Plan (LTP as it was known) was initiated by for Goal Project director Dato Seri Paul Mony and in 2006 Windsor was instrumental in drawing up the 2006 to 2009 LTP.

However the current FAM administration opted not to carry on with the LTP and it probably is collecting dust somewhere in the corridors of FAM today.

For the benefit of those in the dark, the LTP outlines the targets and objectives of each department within FAM and could be used to apply fopr funding from FIFA via the DOKL office. It was through this initiative that the FIFA Com-Unity Program (in November 2005) and Futuro III Courses were held in Kuala Lumpur, organized by FAM.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


After 9 years serving FIFA, Windsor John Paul has decided to leave the parent body of football and is touted by many to have some association with FAM in the near future.

But if FAM is the desired destination for Windsor, then he should not opt for anything less then the General Secretary's position, given the fact that Malaysian football needs someone in the likes of Windsor to give the sport the desired boost.

Not withstanding that, Windsor can also be considered for a position in the newly set up 1 Malaysia F1 team or as the Hon. Secretary of the Olympic Council of Malaysia given his vast experience in administration and his friendly nature as well as vast international recognition over the years.

While it may be FIFA's loss and Malaysia's gain, it will be left to be seen if any Malaysian sports body will utilise Windsor's ability as the FAM has obviously not decided to use him since 2007.

While it has been speculated that Windsor may join FAM, the head of FIFA Development Office Kuala Lumpur who will vacate his position on September 30, has opted not to say anything with regards to his future plans.

"Yes I have submitted my resignation and FIFA will appoint a replacement. As for me, I have three months to finish a manual for FIFA and the period will also give me an opportunity to decide on my future plans," said Windsor who was the Assistant for the GOAL project from 2000 to 2004 before assuming the position of Development Officer in 2005.

"I will be able to assist any football body over the next three months of my leave but it will be up to them to utilise me or seek my services. I am available to assist but my future plans are close to my chest."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Malaysian national coach K. Rajagobal once crossed swords with Brian Mclair at Carrington in Manchester and his charges upstaged the younger Red Devils 4-1.

He coached the national team to impressive outings against United in July and at the Sea Games Rajagobal could well try to outwit Bryan Robson who is almost certain to sign along the dotted lines with the Thai FA ( read report below ).

While wonders happen on the north and south, Malaysian football keeps having administrators who are out to do business at the expense of our football.

BANGKOK - FORMER England captain Bryan Robson said Tuesday he was likely to take the job as coach of Thailand's national team after flying in for talks with the local football association.

Robson, who has previously coached at clubs including Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, said he was in Thailand to discuss the terms for replacing Peter Reid as Thailand manager.

Asked if he had agreed to take the job yet, he told a press conference in Bangkok: 'No, but it's looking pretty good.'

'What we will discuss is the commitment that is involved for the national team and the timescale for that, because of the commitments that I have in England with Manchester United,' said Robson, a former United skipper.

'I think that I am comfortable that I can do both and do them well. The Thai Football Association are comfortable with that as well,' he added.

'Thailand have a great chance of qualifying for the Asian Cup. I have spoken to Peter Reid and he really enjoyed the one year that he spent here,' he added.

Thailand Football Association chairman Worawi Makudi thanked Robson for coming and said there would be another press conference on Wednesday after their talks.

Former Sunderland and Manchester City boss Reid's contract as Thailand's national coach was terminated earlier this month after just a year. He has been appointed number two at Stoke City.

Worawi has previously rejected criticisms that Robson had had no major success during his time as manager at other clubs.


World number one Lee Chong Wei faces a tough first test at this week's Japan Open as he bids to recapture the title he won in 2007.

The top seed, runner-up last year, must beat in-form Boonsak Ponsana in the first round. The 11th-ranked Thai reached the final at the China Masters at the weekend, losing to home favourite Lin Dan.

Lee admitted he has been struggling with an unspecified knee problem he suffered before the China Masters. 'I still felt pains when I practised today but I prepared for the China Masters and Japan Open pretty well. I'm ready to do my best,' said Lee.

The winner of that match will take on either Hsieh Yu-hsing of Taiwan or Indonesia's Simon Santoso before a probable third-round clash against defending champion Soni Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia.

A strong-looking top half of the draw also includes Athens Olympic gold medallist Taufik Hidayat, also of Indonesia, and the 2008 Asian champion Park Sung-Hwan of South Korea. 'I took part in this tournament many times but I've never won, although I finished runner-up before. It's the jinx I want to bury. So this is the tournament I really want to win,' said Hidayat.

The withdrawal of world number two Chen Jin of China leaves the bottom half wide open and boosts the chances of third seed Peter Gade of Denmark, who won the title in 1998 and 1999.

His main rivals are Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam, fellow Dane Joachim Persson and local hope Sho Sasaki.


Having made blunders after blunders and getting rid of long serving staff that were not in tandem with a certain personalities wayward ways, the next step towards destroying whatever is left of Malaysian football has commenced. It is what one would call part three of an elegant plan to derive benefits for some at the expense of football in this country. First it was getting rid of some key personnel, followed by discarding in a way the Players Status Committee and now below we find an attempt to privatise the M-league.

Well it is something that does not shock me at all but I have one question though,m what is there to privatise when rightfully the league belongs, or rather the marketing rights are the sole property of MSL Sdn Bhd.

And before we keep accusing of states of mismanagement or poor administration, lets just take a long hard look at FAM itself.

We know for a fact that one of the Deputy President has not attended meetings since late last year, two vice presidents are also in the same boat with one not even bothered to attend any meetings for the last two years. And we have the Hon. Treasurer who has quit, a fact that some in FAM have tried to conceal and were unhappy about when it was revealed by my esteemed bloggers, Jaiho and Khawari.

So what is the real story then about the real story then, who benefits from this so called privitisation, the FAM, the states or a certain personality....

Read the Bernama story below:

The Malaysian League may be privatised in 2011 if the problems that plagued contending teams continue to persist next year.

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) secretary-general Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad cited the problems as financial woes (staff and players' salaries), dropped in the quality of the game and dwindling audience.

"The Malaysian League's next season will be the FAM's last battle ground to find our way out of the quagmire.

"As a result, we have introduced additional conditions to contending teams," he told Bernama.

Among them, the teams would have to pay a deposit to the FAM and produce proofs of their financial standing that would enable them to compete in the current season and the next one.

Contenders in the Super League have to fork out RM150,000 while that of the Premier League, RM100,000.

Super League contenders must prove that they have RM2.5 million in their accounts while that of the Premier League, RM1.5 million.

"If all conditions are meet and the teams take serious views of the conditions, the future of soccer in Malaysia is bright," he said.

Asked why the FAM had to wait until 2011 to privatise the league, he said it was due to the Malaysian culture.

"Malaysians like to have a dialogue first and only after enough time is given, they will go to the next stage before an action is taken," he said.

Azzuddin called on state affiliates to use the time left to fill up their coffer and take initiatives to beef up their financial standing.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Had Noh Alam Shah been a Malysian, he probably would have been banned for speaking his mind as Reduan Abdullah found out after he spoke the truth about Malaysian Football. And B. Sathianathan lost his job..


What was your intention when you made those negative comments about the S-League?

Noh Alam Shah: I have the interest of Singapore football at heart. I said all those things on behalf of S-League footballers, so that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) know how we feel, so that they will take steps to improve things. We never had the chance to speak up, or were afraid to do so. Right from the start, I wasn't angry. I was just voicing an honest opinion.

What was the trigger for your outburst?

I don't know what's going to happen to me after this. But I have been tolerating many things for very long. However, this year, so many things happened that I just couldn't take it any more. I was already disillusioned after the Singapore-Liverpool game, at how we were made to feel like an away team when we were playing at the National Stadium. Getting sent off by referees? I was already used to it. And I still think that the way I was treated by referees is ridiculous.

But the breaking point came when Teo Hock Seng, my Tampines Rovers chairman, was slapped with a touchline ban. (Last month, the Football Association of Singapore disciplinary committee imposed a touchline ban on Teo until the end of this season for misconduct.)

He is such a passionate football man. But he was punished for that. That, for me, was the last straw.

Did you discuss with your family and friends beforehand?

I speak the truth. I say what I see. I told my boss, wife, team-mates and even ex-national footballers about what I was going to do. All of them told me to be honest and to say what I feel. My last game for Tampines was so memorable. There were about five photographers behind the goal. I can't think of that much media interest in an S-League game in recent years. Is this what I have to do for the S-League to get the attention of everyone? We, the players and the FAS, need to work together to see how we can make local football exciting again.

Have you always been such an outspoken person?

Yes, I don't care what others think, as long as I am honest with myself. People can say what they want. All I know is I don't want to be a hypocrite.


Some fans reacted negatively to your comments. Why do you think so?

Maybe, some Singapore fans just love to give negative comments. Of course, they are passionate in a way. They will always be there to comment, but they are not always there to watch us play. They form their opinion based on what they read in the media, not after seeing it for themselves.They say they are coming to support us, but they don't.

I have had enough of this.

Some think you are biting the hand that feeds you. Do you agree?

I don't. The only hand that was feeding me was Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng's. Yes, the S-League opened a door to a life as a footballer, something I would never have imagined as a kid. But once I stepped through that door, I had to work my socks off to be where I am. I have worked hard to be where I am today.

Do you feel you have let down those fans who supported you and the national team?

If they support me, they won't think that way. On the streets, I was approached by people who told me I did a brave thing. Many of my colleagues in the S-League thanked me for speaking out for them.


With Mustafic Fahrudin, Baihakki Khaizan, Ridhuan Muhammad and Precious Emuejeraye also sealing moves to the Indonesia Super League, do you think this is good for Singapore football?

IT'S good for their development. For me, I'm already 29, and I have different reasons for going abroad. For the younger ones, such as Ridhuan and Baihakki, they will be exposed to many things that they won't see here. They will return to Singapore as more experienced players.

Even learning how to negotiate a contract will open them up to other things in life. Ridhuan didn't know how to negotiate with Arema Malang. I was there to help him with it.


You made several allegations that painted the S-League in a bad light. What do you think can do done to improve things


    (It is a fitness test that all S-League players must pass annually before they can be registered.)

    BY OCTOBER, before the season ends, players will already be thinking of the Beep Test for the following season.

    Their careers are on the line.

    It saddens me when players have to leave football here just because they can't pass their Beep Test. When it happens, It feels like someone in my trade just died.

    We should scrap the Beep Test.

    Some of these players who fail it can still contribute.

    Yes, use it as a a gauge for player fitness.

    But I have my objections when a player's rice bowl depends on its result.


    INITIALLY, we had a lot of media coverage of the S-League. But it died down after a while.

    If I, having played in the S-League for years, don't even know who the up-and-coming players are, how will the man on the street know?

    I remember being featured in The New Paper in 1998 as a promising young player, and I remember being thrilled at seeing my face in the newspapers.

    It spurred me on and made me work even harder.

    We also have to sell the game to our younger generation, the primary and secondary school kids, to develop their passion for local football.

    These kids are dying to meet us. But we need to find out how to connect the kids and the footballers. Maybe the S-League can come up with events to bring us together.

    We need to believe in the S-League.

    Forget about those who keep talking about the Malaysia Cup.

    I wished I could play in the Malaysia Cup, too, but there's no point talking about it anymore because it's not going to come back.


    IF YOU pay peanuts, what do you get?

    Let's not even talk about Iranian World Cup players Mohamed Khakpour and Hamid Reza Estili.

    But where are the Tawan Sripans, the Zsolt Bucs, and the Joselito da Silvas?

    We don't have such players anymore.

    We need better foreigners in the S-League.


    Why do you think Singapore athletes are afraid of speaking up?

    THAT'S the nature of typical Singaporeans. Maybe they are worried about offending people. Many footballers have little education and suffer from low self-esteem as a result.

    I'm still a little scared when I have to talk in English.

    Maybe they generally lack confidence, so many of them prefer to keep quiet and move on.


    Not since Mick Molloy hacked into the cheese-wheel in the film Crackerjack has the genteel sport of lawn bowls been plunged into such disarray.

    Official complaints have been lodged against the New Zealand national team, the Black Jacks, accusing them of deliberately folding in their game against lowly ranked Thailand in an important tournament last month.

    There was no cash at stake; online bookmakers offer betting options on everything from darts to European ice hockey, but it seems there's still no market for lawn bowls.

    Instead, the Black Jacks have been accused of losing the game to ensure that rivals Canada would be eliminated from the Asia-Pacific Championships held in Malaysia.

    Officials now have the unenviable task of weighing into what one commentator called the "Trevor Chappell dilemma" - whether it is illegal for a team to underperform to advance its overall strategic position.

    The chief executive of Bowls Australia, Neil Dalrymple, said it would be hard to find fault under the written laws of the sport.

    But in a sport where there are many unwritten laws, the act of rolling over would be widely criticised. "There's nothing in the rules to say you can't underperform … but there's a question as to whether it's in the spirit of the game," he said.

    A Black Jacks spokeswoman told the Herald that she was unable to comment on the matter while it was before the judiciary.

    But Gary Lawson, one of the four players under investigation, said: "We didn't throw the game. We lost," he said. "It happens occasionally. Apparently we're not allowed to do that."

    Lawson blamed the loss on the poor performance of the New Zealand coach, Dave Edwards. "[He] should be charged with impersonating a coach," he said. As it was, New Zealand did advance to the semi-finals of the championships, only to be eliminated by Australia.

    Mr Dalrymple said the incident had shaken the lawn-bowls world. "It's something you don't expect to see," he said.

    "But the sport has progressed to a point where these guys are playing for reasonably high stakes.

    ''Like every sport, you're going to have some people willing to push the limits."

    Friday, September 18, 2009


    Two days after aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes was announced as the team principal, he announced plans to step down as head of the new Lotus Formula One team once the 2010 season has started.

    'The team principal (position) is not something that is going to be permanent,' he told Reuters on Thursday. 'I am going to get it (the team) to a stage and then someone can do it full time, properly.'

    'My job is AirAsia and I just want to make sure that we (Lotus) have the right direction, the right imaging and the right future, the right strategic plan and marketing,' he added.

    'I think up to about Melbourne, maybe,' he said when asked about the time frame. 'Maybe I'll enjoy being the team principal for a couple of races and I think then we'd move it on to someone else.'

    Mr Fernandes, the country's 15th richest man according to Forbes Malaysia's 2009 rich list, runs Asia's largest budget airline by fleet size.

    He was announced as the boss of Formula One's newest team on Tuesday when Lotus F1 was granted the 13th slot.

    The new team, to be based ultimately at Malaysia's Sepang circuit, will be a partnership between the Malaysian government and a consortium of local entrepreneurs.

    Mr Fernandes said replacements were already being considered and his successor would likely not be a Malaysian.

    'I would say probably we would buy in experience,' he added.

    'I think it would be good that the team principal is Malaysian but it might be a tall order to be a team principal straight away.'


    FORMER England captain Bryan Robson has 'agreed in principal' to become coach of Thailand's national team and will visit the Kingdom next week to discuss terms, the country's soccer chief said on Friday.

    If the deal goes through, the former Manchester United midfielder would be tasked with steering the team to the 2014 World Cup finals, Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi said.

    'Robson is interested and has agreed in principal to become our coach,' Worawi told Reuters.

    'He wants to come and discuss the details in person. He's a big name and we think he could play a big part in improving Thai football.'

    Robson, 52, would replace fellow former England international Peter Reid, who parted company with the Thais on Sept 9 after less than a year in charge.

    Reid's lucrative contract, reported to have been worth close to US$1.6 million (S$2.3 million) a year and part-funded by the English FA, was terminated by mutual consent.

    The FAT rejected his request to coach the Thai side while serving as assistant manager at Premier League Stoke City.

    Robson has managed Middlesbrough, Bradford City, West Bromwich Albion and most recently, Sheffield United, whom he quit in Feb 2008.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009


    Arema Malang sprung a surprise on Saturday when it named Dutchman Robert Rene Alberts as its new coach.

    As of Friday, only two foreign names were known to be in the running to succeed Gusnul Yakin as coach — former Indonesian national team coach Ivan Kolev of Bulgaria and Miroslav Janu of the Czech Republic, who coached Arema in 2006-07.

    The leading candidate was reportedly local coach Suharno, formerly of Persiwa Wamena.

    After a lengthy debate, though, Alberts emerged as the new man in charge.

    “[Alberts’] vast experience, especially with youth development, was the main reason behind our decision to choose him,” Muhammad Nur, the Arema Malang Foundation chairman, said on Sunday.

    “We want to build a club for the future, not just survive in the [Indonesian] Super League this season. So we’ll need more young players on the squad. We believe that Alberts has the capabilities to lead those youngsters to achieve something this season, and bond them together to make a great Arema team in the years to come.”

    Alberts, 55, may not be a familiar name to Indonesian football fans, but he has more than 17 years of experience around Asia. He started his coaching career in 1992 with the Malaysian side Kedah FA, before leading Home United and Tiong Bahru, now Tanjong Pagar, in Singapore’s S-League.

    He was appointed as the South Korea Football Association director of coaching in 2002 and also managed its under-17 national team.

    He returned to Malaysia and coached its U-19 team, while also serving as the Malaysian Football Association’s technical director from 2005 to 2008.

    His last post was at the helm of Malaysian club Serawak FA, which finished 12th in the second division last season.

    Alberts is scheduled to arrive in Malang, East Java, on Thursday. He will be the club’s second Dutch coach after Henk Wullems, who led the side during the 2003-04 season.

    Arema has yet to win a first-division league title in its 22 years of existence, though it did win the Copa Indonesia in 2005 and 2006 under the guidance of Benny Dollo, the current Indonesian national team coach.

    “This season, we just want [Alberts] to take the club to a higher level than last season’s 10th place,” Nur said. “We think a top four finish is a realistic target for the club.”

    Club manager Rendra Kresna said Alberts would start work immediately as Arema has yet to form a squad list for next season.

    “We hope by the end of August we will have a definitive squad list for next season,” Rendra said.

    Arema received a boost on Monday as national team goalkeeper Markus Horison, who had been without a team after his contract with relegated PSMS Medan expired, said he would play for the East Java club.

    “I’m going to Malang on Wednesday to finalize the deal,” Markus said.

    The deal, on which Arema officials declined to comment, is reportedly worth around Rp 750 million ($75,000) a year.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009


    Leading Malaysian entrepreneur Dato Tony Fernandes will be Lotus team principal, to be known as the 1 Malaysia F1 Team.

    The 45-year-old set up Asian budget airline Air Asia, currently sponsoring the Williams team, and is Malaysia's 15th richest man with a net worth of $220 million according to Forbes Malaysia 2009 rich list.

    Lotus, one of the most successful and glorious names from Formula One's past, will return next year with a Malaysian-owned team replacing BMW-Sauber as the 13th entry on the starting grid.

    The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement on Tuesday that, after due diligence and an intensive selection process, it had chosen Lotus.

    The new outfit will be called Lotus F1 Team and is a partnership between the Malaysian government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs.

    "The cars will be made in Malaysia, by Malaysians," the Malaysian government said in a separate statement.

    The Technical director is said to be Mike Gascoyne was previously with Force India, their predecessors Jordan, Toyota and Renault.

    As part of its application to compete in the 2010 championship, the Lotus team agreed an engine supply deal with Cosworth.

    Lotus will initially be based in Norfolk, some 10 miles from the original Lotus Cars factory in Eastern England, but the future design, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose built at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit.

    "The team will announce its two drivers by October 31, 2009. Currently six local and international drivers have been selected," the Malaysian government said.

    Three teams had been on the FIA shortlist for the 13th slot: Lotus, a BMW-Sauber entry to be renamed under eventual new ownership and Spain's Epsilon Euskadi.

    The original Lotus won seven Formula One constructors' titles and six drivers' crowns between 1963 and 1978 under the inspirational leadership of the late Colin Chapman, one of the most innovative engineers in the sport.

    Chapman died of a heart attack in 1982 and the company slid into administration in 1994 after giving the late Brazilian Ayrton Senna his first victory in 1985.

    British great Jim Clark spent his entire F1 career with Lotus, winning two titles. The team's other champions include compatriot Graham Hill, Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi and American Mario Andretti.

    In 1970 the team's Austrian driver Jochen Rindt became the sport's only posthumous champion.

    The right to the Lotus F1 name was acquired by David Hunt, brother of the 1976 champion James, while the British-based car company was bought by Malaysiam state-owned Proton.


    Remember the Lotus F1 Team entry that tried to make it into next year’s Formula 1 gird? Well, we have news that the FIA has given the green light to the entry, since there is a vacant spot as BMW announced its departure. However, the team will carry a different name: 1Malaysia F1 Team, since the team will be backed by the Malaysian Government and a group of Malaysian investors. For the record, Lotus is owned by Malaysian auto maker, Proton. However, some reports indicate that the team will be called Lotus F1 Team.

    The team will be based in Norfolk, England (located about 10 miles away Lotus’ headquarters), and will be headed by Tony Fernandes, a Malaysian businessman who is behind Air Asia and the Malaysian Tune Group. The latter will also be funding the team. Formerly with Jordan, Renault, Toyota and Force India, Mike Gascoyne will be the new team’s Technical Director. As expected, the new team, along with Manor, USGPE and Campos, will be powered by Cosworth. According to the FIA, the team’s future design, R&D, manufacturing and technical centre will be built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.

    The team will also feature Xtrac transmissions and will have the aerodynamics developed by a company called FondTech. With all that, one wonders what actually are Lotus’ responsibilities within the new team? Lotus’ last outing in Formula 1 was back in 1994.

    In another development, the FIA is currently negotiating with all the current teams is Formula 1, to allow a fourteenth team to join the line-up next year. The extra spot will be made available to the new owners of the BMW Sauber team, provided it is successfully sold in time.


    Quite a media event at Oakland International Airport, what with a water cannon greeting the touchdown of an Oakland Raiders-emblazoned AirAsia Airbus A340 jet and a news conference attended by notables such as Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums; the U.S. ambassador to Malaysia, Jamaludin Jarjis; and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes.

    It was all in aid of publicizing the low-cost Malaysian airline's sponsorship of the Raiders. An interesting, not to say risky, marketing strategy, one might think, given that AirAsia doesn't fly to the United States; one doesn't normally associate Malaysia with Raider Nation, or any NFL fan base, come to think of it; and the Raiders haven't exactly been the cream of the professional football crop of late - except perhaps in ways they would rather not be. (Recent punch-up involving head coach and assistant coach, etc.)

    Not much Fernandes can do about B and C. But the airline, one of Asia's most successful, is looking to rectify the missing transportation link, with Oakland International as its initial port of call. The Raiders sponsorship, said Fernandes, is intended primarily to "build our brand" here ahead of the airline's Kuala Lumpur-to-Oakland run. When might that be? "Sometime next year is a reality," he told me.

    One hiccup already: AirAsia's plan to bring over several hundred Asian fans for Monday night's Coliseum opener ran afoul of Homeland Security obstacles. "It was a friggin' nightmare," said Fernandes. AirAsia folks might also want to check in with its new partner's front office. The Raiders' game day Web page features a big ad for ... Hawaiian Airlines.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009


    At one time it was considered the best national sports association with sound administration and solid financial backing both from the government as well as the private sector.

    Millions was poured in and it produced the likes of Nicol David , Ong Beng Hee and Azlan Iskandar. But while the gravy train rolled on, developing youngsters was left out as key personnel quit and the admin in shambles.

    Nicol surprisingly lost to Medeline Perry in the quarters last night 11-6, 14-12, 13-15, 5-11, 8-11. While we cannot expect Nicol to win all the time, losing to a player nearing her 30s is cause for concern as Nicol had a 2-0 lead.

    But closer to home there was another shocking news, the resignation of SRAM General Manager Peter Chee due to differences with a key personality in SRAM.

    Let's wait and read what excuses SRAM will offer on Peter Chee's departure.

    Tuesday, September 08, 2009


    Read the story below with regards to the laying of a new turf in Bangalore, a city where the Malaysian Project team has headed for some friendly matches to prepare for the SEA Cup in Bangkok later this month.

    Maybe our local authorities would also want to conduct their own investigations as there have been much talk on shady deals as well.

    The state government has rejected the new synthetic turf for the KSHA hockey stadium being supplied by Greenfields, Holland, and asked the firm to switch back to the sample it had submitted with the tender.T

    he decision was taken on Monday evening, in a meeting of with the representatives of the Dutch company, officials of the erstwhile KSHA (IOA and Hockey India have dissolved all state units, with new ones to be formed as per the guidelines of the state Olympic associations) and its technical committee.

    The New Indian Express had first reported on September 3, that the material being used for the hockey turf was different from the one submitted during the tender process.

    Shivananjaiah, DYSS Sports Director told Express: “The company’s officials have asked for some time. We will wait for their decision and then decide the next step.In any case, we have made it clear to them that we will not accept the new material which is entirely different from the sample.”

    After Express broke the story the state government had put a stop to the turf-laying work. The suppliers, Chaddha Sports, Delhi, who represent Greenfields, have been quoted as saying that there is no need to provide a sample at the time of the tender.If that is the case, then how can a particular rate be agreed upon without knowing the quality of the product?

    In this case, the tender was awarded to Greenfields, who had quoted the lowest price of 53 dollars per square metre.The Delhi based firm has also said that the sample might have been manufactured much before the new consignment was sent.

    So how could they not manufacture the product and send it, in place of sending a different material than what was agreed upon. This has further delayed laying of the synthetic turf at the KSHA Stadium. The present surface was laid for the National Games in 1996-97, with a seven year warranty. Two years later, the new turf still has to see the light of the day.


    Basketball plans to breach new borders next month with the launch of the inaugural ASEAN Basketball League, a project headed by wealthy entrepreneur and AsiaAir founder Tony Fernandes.

    But ironically Tony is the Chairman of a Singapore Club. And if he is doing so much for Singapore, why haven't any Malaysian national associations approached him. He is a member of the MHF Finance Committee, backed MyTeam FC in its early days as he was the Vice President but surely even OCM or NSC could appoint him onto their Board.

    While the game has a big following in countries like China, basketball has yet to take a iron grip on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a geo-political and economic organisation of 10 countries.

    But with a potential market of some 600 million people, that could be about to change.

    Six clubs - Brunei Barracudas, KL Dragons, Philippine Patriots, Satria Muda BritAma, Thailand Tigers and Singapore Slingers - will compete in the inaugural season of the ABL, starting in Jakarta on October 10.

    But the plans are loftier than that with 20 clubs set to feature by 2011, with teams from Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia joining this season’s lineup from Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

    The region’s first commercial league has been set up with an initial input of 10 million US dollars with Fernandes handed the chairmanship.

    The Malaysian entreprenuer’s experience in opening new businesses and exploiting markets is seen as invaluable to the league’s success.

    “I’m confident of making money in the first year of the ABL ... And for the fans it’s a real thrill if you travel with your fellow supporters to another country, root for your team and come home,” he said.

    The season, which will run till February, will comprise 15 home and away games with the top four involved in a semi-final playoff series, before the Grand Finale, earmarked for Malaysia.

    With basketball’s world governing body FIBA considering the launch of a World Club Championships in 2011, Southeast Asian teams could soon find themselves up against NBA giants.

    If if goes ahead, the continental champions will compete in a tournament at the end of each year, modelled on FIFA’s football World Club Championships, won last year by Manchester United.

    “The ASEAN Basketball League is the first of its kind in Asia and a welcome indication of the maturity achieved by our sport,” said FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann.

    “It will further boost the popularity of basketball in this area and beyond, while creating new opportunities and dreams for the FIBA family.

    “We look forward to seeing new talents and countries emerge in basketball in the next five years as a result of this project.”

    Each club in the ABL must have seven local players and three others from Southeast Asia, alongside two internationals. A salary cap will be imposed.

    It will be a new adventure for ASEAN teams, who rarely get international experience.

    Malaysia and the Philippines have semi-professional leagues and the Singapore Slingers used to be part of Australia’s National Basketball league, but outside that their exposure has been limited.

    Organisers hope that inter-country rivalries can be nurtured to take the game to the next level.
    “It’s exciting to know that FIBA have endorsed the ABL,” said Fernandes, who is also chairman of the Singapore Slingers.

    “The winners of the ABL can move on to do battle against other continental champions and that will include your top NBA teams.

    “So there could come a day when we’ll see the Slingers go up against the Los Angeles Lakers or the Boston Celtics, for example. Wouldn’t that be a sight to behold?"

    Monday, September 07, 2009


    Thailand are without a coach but Asia editor John Duerden believes that the right candidate is already in place...

    Steve Darby and Peter Reid (BBC)

    Bangkok or Burslem? Phuket or the Potteries? These choices are never as simple as they seem and Peter Reid has returned home to England after almost exactly one year in charge of the Thailand national team.

    As far as Asian football goes, the departure of Reid to become Stoke City’s assistant manager is something of a loss.

    There may not have been a huge impact on the pitch but the presence of an experienced Premier League coach, the last to take Manchester City to a higher-place finish than Manchester United, in South-East Asia helped raise the profile of the region.

    Reid was still learning about his job, the country and the culture when he left with three years remaining on his contract. More than once the ex-Everton enforcer spoke of how much he enjoyed his Thai time but in the end he was more than keen to return to England, the Premier League and his family.

    His major achievement was leading the team to the final of the 2008 ASEAN final when they lost to Vietnam on a heady Hanoi night that he will not forget in a hurry.

    Now it is up to the Football Association of Thailand to decide what to do next - well, it is the decision of president Worawi Makudi. Nothing will happen until Worawi, still hopeful, according to the Thai media, that Reid may stay, returns home but already there is Brazilian interest in the vacant job.

    In recent years the federation, whether by design or by accident, has alternated between domestic and foreign coaches. Steve Darby is a mixture of both.

    The man may have a name that suggests a 1970s television detective but Reid’s sidekick is probably the best candidate for the job.

    If you work in Asian football then sooner or later you will come across the man from Liverpool. That is why he deserves a shot – there is nobody from outside South-East Asia who knows the region so well.

    When Reid was offered the job last summer, the first thing he did was call upon his fellow Scouser. Darby has coached in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore and is well-respected for his efforts on behalf of football in the region both on and off the pitch – not least, his coaching seminars and texts that have been well received by domestic coaches.

    Reid knew that he needed Darby’s expertise and it was the number two who did much of the work on the training pitch with the players and travelling around Thailand watching game after game of what is one of Asia’s fastest-improving leagues.

    The last thing that Reid did when he ended his Asian adventure was recommend to the FA that Darby be his successor.

    It is reminiscent in some ways of South Korea in 2005. Dick Advocaat spent nine months in charge of the national team, called upon Pim Verbeek for local knowledge and a European perspective, and the number two became number one upon Advocaat’s departure and is now thriving as Australia’s coach.

    If the Thai FA turns to Darby, it would ensure at least that the impact of Reid’s departure is minimised and that the work done over the past year continues.

    A number of international players have already said they want the number two to become number one. Players usually do, but when talking to star striker Teerathep Winothai recently, he was fulsome in his praise of the genial tactician.

    The Thai FA talks of the 2014 World Cup but for now the objective for the national team is to reclaim their number one spot in South-East Asia in the face of challenges from Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. For this, at least, a man with local expertise and international experience is necessary.

    The battles with continental powerhouses and the world can come later. First, Thailand have to qualify for the 2011 Asian Cup, and the team have made a solid start in their campaign. A creditable draw in Jordan was followed by an impressive one with Iran in Bangkok.

    Next, in November, come two games against regional and group rivals Singapore, two matches that could make or break Thailand’s 2011 ambitions.

    Preparations have already been made and given the fact Darby has coached in the S-League, winning the league and cup in 2003, and knows the nation well, he is the logical choice and would be in it for the long haul.

    Logic doesn’t always come into it as far as football is concerned, especially in Asia and especially in South-East Asia - something that makes the region so fascinating - but with every problem comes an opportunity, and this is the case for Thai football at the moment.

    John Duerden

    Asia Editor


    There can be few stark contrasts in fortunes as the rise of Singapore and the fall of Malaysia, both of whom began at around the same point of time in the 1990s.

    Malaysia had once been a dominant player in South East Asia, and even gave the more illustrious names in Asia a fright although never quite at their level. The local league was thriving and well-supported, even attracting foreigners (including Australians) to its ranks, and home-grown stars who were much-appreciated by Malaysian fans.

    Unfortunately, it all blew up spectacularly in 1994 when a bribery scandal broke out. The credibility of Malaysian football with the public was permanently damaged - the standard declined dramatically and fans stayed away. Malaysia descended to being one of the minnows of the region, on a par with many Oceania teams.

    It was around this time that Singapore, who had fielded a team in the Malaysian league, chose to plot its own independent path. The country had even exported a player to Europe, Fandi Ahmad, who played for Groningen in the mid-1980s and scored in European competition. By 1996, a professional league was set up.

    It took time. The appointment of former Notts County goalkeeper Raddy Avramovic in 2003 to the national team post began the rise of Singapore to become one of South-East Asia’s best teams and even achieving a modicum of respectability in the wider Asian scene.

    In many ways, the contrasting football fortunes of the two countries reflect the respective states of the two countries. The endemic corruption and mismanagement of Malaysian football reflects a wider problem in Malaysian society, where there is now widespread dissatisfaction with the current government - a situation not dissimilar to Hungary.

    Singapore, in contrast, is a country with efficient and corruption-free government, and its football administration has made many strides in developing the local game. Malaysian football also suffers from low morale and poor discipline among many of its players. It’s highly unlikely this will change until there is real political change too.

    Friday, September 04, 2009

    Indonesia Faces Olympic Sanctions

    The battle between the Ministry Youth and Sports Affairs and the Indonesian Sports Council (KONI) over athletes' training might result in Indonesia being suspended from international competitions.

    Last year, the sports ministry launched the Top-tier Athletes Program; while looking to prepare athletes for multi-event sporting showcases, the program is regarded as government intervention in the role that used to be exclusively KONI's.

    The alleged intervention has prompted a warning from the International Olympic Council (IOC) and Olympics Council of Asia (OCA) that KONI's international membership might be suspended, KONI chairwoman Rita Subowo said at a meeting in Jakarta on Thursday. "I'm a member of the IOC. So far, I have been able to lobby the council against making a decision unfavourable to us.

    "But, the council has a time limit, we really need to act *on the warning*," Rita said.

    The meeting, to garner national support for the 2012 Olympic Games, included representatives from KONI's provincial chapters and sports organizations, but Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Adhyaksa Dault and Home Minister Mardiyanto failed to attend.

    It appeared the warning stemmed from the issuance of a government regulation which barred government officials from taking up sport posts.

    A IOC/OCA delegation, which visited Indonesia in 2007, found the regulation violated the Olympic Charter, Firmansyah Gindo, a KONI official, said.

    The sports minister's impulsive statement that KONI might as well be disbanded due to the poor showing of Indonesian sporting delegations in international competitions was also seen as another form of intervention.

    "At that time *early 2007*, there was discussion on KONI's possible dismissal, enough to make the *IOC/OCA* delegates come to see what was going on," Rita said.

    The delegates urged the minister to follow the Olympic Charter, which promotes no government intervention and no discrimination toward anyone doing sports.