There’s a need for Malaysia to find a talismanic striker. Let’s face the facts, Safee Sali may be the best striker in the region but with his age peaking at 27, there’s a need to search for his next successor. Norshahrul Idlan Talaha is our country’s next best thing but he is only a year younger than Safee so a young hungry hitman to emulate this duo has to be discovered soon. Fortunately with the emergence of Shakir Ali (Negeri Sembilan), Abdul Manaf Mamat (Terengganu), Afiq Azmi (Kuala Lumpur), Shahrul Azwari and Hazwan Bakri (Harimau Muda) , national coach K.Rajagopal doesn’t have to look far. With some guidance and polishing, we could have more potent strikers coming up the ranks in the near future.
2. Have More Competitive INTERNATIONAL Matches
People do not seem to get the logic behind K.Rajagopal’s idea of having tryouts by playing against local clubs to prepare the best lineup ahead of the AFF cup. Will it lead to improvement? Yes it will, but the shortage on quality is certainly evident. This does not mean that local clubs don’t have the quality but in comparison to national teams, wouldn’t it be more fitting to play against international teams considering that the players will be gaining more experience against high quality opponents on the international stage? When Malaysia played Premiership clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool during their visit last year, some of our weaknesses were clearly visible but it gave an opportunity to Rajagopal and the players to learn from their mistakes. Last year, Malaysia only played against a team from the Asia’s top five. It ended up badly for but it was a lesson in bold: Malaysia needs more competitive matches to improve their ranking.
3. Questionable Call-Ups And Line-Ups
Malaysia do have diamonds in the rough. But sometimes, they are just overlooked. From observation prior to the game against Philippines, the players that featured weren’t performing in the domestic league. Amiridzuan Taj, S.Subramaniam, Asrarudin Putra Omar in particular were bullied all over the pitch by the lower rung Filipinos. In addition, the midfield was also lacking in terms of pace and creativity. Zaquan Adha and S Kunalan were disappointing throughout the game. We could have turned the game around if we have we have more players such as Ashaari Shamsudin and Zairo Anuar Jalani around. Both have proved they can offer a lot in terms of attacking options but it was disappointing that they were left out.
4. Lack Of Urgency To Win
With reference to the Philippines game in particular, the players showed a very relaxed approach in a game that was considered critical for the country’s FIFA ranking. The importance of such a match seemed trivial to the players by the way they carried themselves on the pitch. With half-hearted passing, lack of concentration and miscommunication between players, Malaysia can consider themselves lucky to even manage a draw in that game. Our national players have to be constantly reminded that matches like this can make a difference in terms of the country’s football reputation as well their own football careers. Hopefully, the coming AFF Suzuki Cup will eventually bring some sort of change in terms of their winning mentality.
5. Stop, Stare And Fix Malaysian Football
Controversies, scandals and squabbling is not good for any team. The players will get distracted and the morale of the whole team is affected. The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) is always the center of controversy whenever there is a football related issue in the country. Their recent decision to suspend Kelantan chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa and the statement saying Malaysia’s ranking aren’t that important is not making things any better. Majority of the public felt that Tan Sri Anuar Musa’s statements are somewhat not far from the truth and FAM as a governing body should be open to opinions. Many of them think that the reason the issue was addressed in such a manner was to give FAM a wake-up call. Malaysia's ranking may not reflect the the true strength of the national team, but there are certain areas which needs to be addressed if we are to revive our glory days of yesteryears when Malaysian stood head-to-head with Asia's current powerhouse South Korea and Japan. There are many young promising talents coming through the ranks and if nurtured in the right manner, we will map our success on football's success stories. But first, there are some areas in our football administration which requires servicing, and these five steps are some of the factors which can be taken into consideration to improve the standard of Malaysian football.