KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20 – Malaysia is out of the AFF Suzuki Cup and you can bet there will be scapegoats for the team’s failure in Singapore.
It is a norm in Malaysian sports bodies to find scapegoats for failures. This has happened once too often. We have seen those in power shift the blame on scapegoats, except themselves.
In real fact those who hold top positions are the root cause of failures and the actual cause of flops.
National football team manager, Datuk Yusoff Mahadi went as far as saying that the Harimau Malaya can even regain the silverware they last won in 2010, knowing that the team was ill-prepared for various reasons.
Apart from the tight local fixtures that was also hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Everybody knows that national football head coach Tan Cheng Hoe took an ill-prepared team to Singapore without “key” players who would have made a difference.
Let’s not forget that even then netizens and so called football experts questioned Cheng Hoe’s selection of players.
The FA of Malaysia (FAM) and the Malaysian Football League (MFL) should be blamed for the crammed fixtures in the league and the Malaysia Cup.
The FAM and the MFL must take a fair share of the blame. After decades of study tours organized by the FAM, we still seem to be groping with a comprehensive yearly football calendar that will benefit all parties.
Indonesia whacked Malaysia 4-1 in their last Group B fixture that was played at the National Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. Garuda, as Indonesia is known, showed what solid preparations can do to a team and they did it in style. And that too after conceding an early 13th minute goal by Kogileswaran Raj – a long range effort from about 25 meters
The Indonesians came in waves and with a high intensity pressing game saw Malaysia caved in. Irfan Jaya plundered a brace (36th, 43rd), Pratama Arhan (50th) and Elkan Baggott (82nd).
The Indonesian team trained in Turkey for a month before the AFF  Suzuki Cup and making the semi-finals is a big achievement.
In the last four, Indonesia, as the Group B champions will face Singapore (Group A runners-up) with the first-leg on Wednesday (Dec 22) and the return-leg on Christmas day.
The other semi-finals will see defending champions Vietnam take on five-time champions Thailand. The first-leg is on Thursday (Dec 23rd) and the return-leg on Sunday (Dec 26).
Coming back to Malaysia, be prepared for accusing fingers to be pointed at scapegoats which is a norm in Malaysia.
Let us hope that good sense will prevail and let Cheng Hoe and his coaching panel do its job.
Here again, sports politics should not come into the picture. Netizens will also have to play their role and not question who is called up.
Cheng Hoe and his coaching panel know who can “fit into the system” and who can “gel into the system” when Harimau Malaya plays in the Asia Cup final round qualifiers.
Cheng Hoe had his hands full from day one when the team arrived in Singapore. Two players – goalkeeper Khairul Azhan Khalid and flanker Faisal Halim – were tested positive and were served a 10-day quarantine.
Two more – Akhyar Rashid and Quentin Cheng – were also tested positive after Malaysia’s first match, which was against Cambodia on Dec 6. Malaysia won 3-1 and Akhyar was named The Man of the Match.
Injuries also took its toll on the team. The backline was hard hit when skipper Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak and Shahrul Saad picked up hamstring injuries against Vietnam. Vietnam won 3-0.

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