The Day Malaysian Boys Made History in China by Football Tribe Malaysia
by Keeshannan Sundaresan, Chief Editor of Football Tribe Malaysia
It was surreal.
One day before a massive, massive decider against Saudi Arabia, Malaysian U-23 boss, Datuk Ong Kim Swee universally declared his intention to attack their opponents and go for a win. Best part? His statement was in response to Vietnam’s 1-0 win over Australia, which was yielded through a complete smash and grab performance.
I clearly remember talking to a few friends and going: “Is he for real? Did he just say Vietnam’s win didn’t mean much because they were conservative on the pitch? Did he say that just one day before a cruncher against the mighty Saudis?”
Malaysian football’s battle with inferiority complex has been ongoing for the last two decades or so, which if there are any individuals who have stood up against it, it’s Datuk Ong Kim Swee. From his mind-blowing team talk at the the 2011 SEA Games to all the young talents that have been moulded under him, Ong has been revolutionary in Malaysian football’s modern history.
But to say there’s less value in winning a game, if the players aren’t allowed to attack and be themselves, merely one day before a major game? That was a complete different ball game and it sent shivers down my spine. Shivers, that turned into radiant ecstasy one day later.
I almost spat my food, when Daniel Amier scored Malaysia’s winner. And you know we Malaysians rarely do that because our food is the best in Asia (come debate this with me any day!). And it’s not like I underestimated Daniel either. These players, technically, were good enough to do the things they did in China. But I underestimated their mental strength on a platform that was as big as the one they were in.
In case you want to know, I never got around to finishing my food (atrocious by Malaysian standards, I know. Our food is too good to be wasted!). But nobody had time for food, when you’re experience premature ventricular contraction every other minute of the game, right after Daniel Amier scored. Could we hold the fort? Hell yes we did!
Most of my greatest football experiences have come in very romantic surroundings - either at the stadium on a humid night, or with a whole group of friends in a cafe or a bar. But this was different. It was an evening kick-off and I was at home, streaming the game on my laptop, in my comfortable t-shirt and shorts, with a plate of Nasi Lemak on the side.
Hardly romantic. But I tell you what, it was one of the best moments I’ve ever had as a Malaysian football fan.
Feel the Passion