Malaysia 1 - 3 Oman
I couldn't resist but to write about our nation's football, Malaysian football. 15th Asian Games in Doha was officiated on 1 December, but some events started a couple of days before the opening ceremony, and football was one of them.
Malaysian football team opened their match against Oman, and the result did not surprise me a bit. 1 -3, the final score line, in favor of Oman. I have watched the match through Astro's telecast partially, and those flashes of moments were enough for me. I couldn't feel any pride running in me when I saw the Malaysian team's display.
In the defeat, Malaysia conceded an own goal, and an inexperienced goalkeeping. I cannot find the logic of Malaysian coach Norizan praising the team's spirit, after conceding such a weak goal, and putting up such a dismal display. The match only showed how inexperience Malaysians are at this level, and their poor touches and finishing contributed to their continuing falter in football.
During the game, there were a couple of lines by the match commentator which caught my attention.
The Malaysians had not been able to pull together on international stage. It's such a shame for a nation who has so much passion towards the sports.
Also, he pointed out on Malaysian football players' exposure. It is no secret that every football player around the world, dreams of playing in Europe for big club, even a second-tier league is considered big here in Malaysia. There had been talk about Malaysian players being offered for trial at European clubs not long ago, particularly, our U-19 keeper (I think he's Under-19) attracted interest from English side Blackburn Rovers.
Players like Akmal Rizal, once the most lethal and one of the better strikers in Malaysian crop over the recent years, had stint in Europe. Titus James was sent to France for football lesson since a tender age of 14, and now, he has yet to won a call-up for Malaysian senior squad. Or the question is, has he even won a professional contract in France?
With all the respect, I am not saying Titus James is a flop, or a no-talent. But the truth is, why dream of flying when you even have problem stabling both your feet? Why Europe when your base is not firmly established?
The match commentator brought this up during the match. We can have our footballers spread throughout the Asian continent for more valuable football exposure. In Asia, we have better leagues. We have J-League (Japan), K-League (Korea), Chinese League (China) in Far East; we have middle-east countries with good football reputation, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and etc.
These leagues were breeding ground for Asian stars who had made fame in International stage, and professional stage. Names like Nakata, Nakamura, Shinji Ono (Japan), Sun Jihai (China), Park Ji-Sung, Lee Young-Pyo, Seol, Ahn Jung-Hwan Ki-Hyeon (South Korea), those names are certainly no stranger to footballing world.
What has gone wrong to Malaysian football? Malaysia has taken quite a plunge in FIFA world ranking over recent years, and is now ranked at lowly 153 (out of 198 nations listed in FIFA ranking). Almost any team in the world is happy to face Malaysia, with victory almost a warrant.
Should we look into the football management in the country? Has we not got enough raw talent here? Could we not breed talents? Are the talents we have not good enough? Despite large sum of money being injected for the sports development, why are we still on the down slope in the sports?
Malaysia boleh (can).. really?
15th Asian Games: Doha 2006
Basketball: Qatar vs Syria
A short note on the basketball game between Qatar and Syria. I happened to watched this game on Astro. Qatar, a nation which enjoys better economy in the world - literally rich nation, was superior in the game. For Syria, it was a battle against Goliath.
Qatar is one of the stronger nations in the Western Asia in sports, be it in football or basketball. A victory was almost certain even from the tip-off. But, I was rather surprised to see how Syria put up their fight against Qatar. Syria was playing no team basketball at all. Most of the plays were really individual moves, and rather, inexperienced.
Their inexperience translated the fact that most of the players could be amateurs or part timers in the sports. In contrast, Qatar lined up professional players, and among them have had trials in the NBA. I believe some may have stints in Europe as well.
Despite the high number of turnovers in the game (official stats recorded 13 for Qatar and 17 for Syria, but my count seemed to be more than that), the Qataris still reeled away with a 40 points victory, 99-59. Massive difference between the two sides. I can't imagine if Malaysian team were to lined up against them.
Barclay's English Premier League
Manchester United to sign Henrik Larsson on-loan in January
Sir Alex Ferguson managed to lure Henrik Larsson to Old Trafford on-loan in January, primarily as back-up in his striking options. The Red Devils fall short of striker cover, as they currently have Rooney, Saha and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (it's always difficult to spell his name) as the fit strikers, while Alan Smith is still recovering to fitness following lengthy injury lay-off. Young and rising striker Rossi is on-loan at Newcastle.
Other note, Arsenal's title hope waned after another defeat against Fulham. They lost 1-2 to the Cottagers. Prior to the match, Gunner's old boy Anelka whipped 2 goals to sent Arsene Wenger and Co. to their despair in Bolton's 3-1 victory. With that result, Arsenal was left trailing 16 points behind leaders Manchester United, whom had drawn against Chelsea 1 - 1 in their meeting at Old Trafford.
Arsenal had just pull themselves from setback after finishing as victors in their derby game against Tottenham. Gilberto's double goals from penalty spot gave Gunners a much needed 3- 0 win over their London neighbors.
A quickie on NBA
The 2006-07 season started with unexpected results. Dallas Mavericks slumped to a 0-4 start; Memphis struggled without Pau Gasol; Utah Jazz leads the league with best record; No one expected Orlando Magic to be pace setters in the Eastern Conference.
Since then, there has been a little change/update. Some of the big teams are putting their form together now, and have had good runs to date. Dallas Mavericks are team on fire after winning 12 games in a row. Phoenix Suns started slowly, but now have won 6 in a row, and their record stands at 9-6. Despite losing 3 of their last 4 games, Utah Jazz remain as the league best.
With acquisition of defensive king Ben Wallace, the Chicago Bulls were thought to be the top contenders this season. However, things did not turn to be that way, as Big Ben struggled to blend into Bulls' system, and are now struggling with 6-9 record. Click here for glance of the standings.
Not much to talk about NBA these days, at least not in this entry. It has been long up till this point.
So, till next time. Enjoying the 30 days (or 29 days) left in 2006. After that, we will be welcoming new year - 2007.
" Photos note: All photos are borrowed from the following sites for illustration purposes: 15th Asian Games: Doha 2006 Official Site, and Manchester United Official Site. "