The Star newspapers headline 30 December 2010
We have just won the AFF (Asean Football Federation ) Suzuki Cup, a biennial tournament that was first introduced in 1996!
It is the only football tournament of note Malaysia has ever won for long, long time since the 1980s!
The jubilation is understandable and the players and coach Rajagopal deserved the congratulations.
But we need to look at the whole thing in perspective and not be carried away.
We were once the giants in Asian football. Teams like South Korea and Japan used to fear playing us.
Now South Korea and Japan have gone very far even in world football. Remember South Korea even beat Italy when they hosted the World Cup and emerged fourth overall?
And at the recent World Cup in South Africa Japan did creditably.
Where was Malaysia all these years since the heydays of Santokh Singh, Soh Chin Ann, Mokhtar
Dahari and Co?
We have been languishing way at the bottom, when even Laos was a handfull for us to handle.
At one point of time recently, we were even ranked at 164 in the Fifa World Rankings!
Now, with this one win in the recently concluded AFF Suzuki Cup tournament, we are celebrating as if we are world champions or close to the same!
Newspapers continue to write glowingly, even up till today, of the current Malaysian team.
What I am afraid of is that all this praise and attention being heaped on the players will go to their heads!
And I don't think that I am being a spoilt- sport nor do I think that my fears are unjustified.
We only need to recall how in the past whenever we praised our sportsmen/women and rewarded them handsomely in money and kind, they failed to live up to their potential.
For example, recall the last time we won the Thomas Cup in the 1992 and what happened subsequently for many years?
The standard of our badminton players got from bad to worst until quite recent times!
Recall the praise and rewards showered on Hafiz Hashim when he won the All England singles title for the first time after many, many years since the last time we had won through Tan Aik Huang.
Now, where is Hafiz Hashim? Since the All England title Hafiz has not lived up to his potential.
I fear the same thing will happen where Malaysian football is concerned.
To really succeed, a lot more work and some clear heads are required before Malaysian football can soar to the heights it once occupied.
And while we are at it, never be satisfied and become complacent. We need to aim for the sky and remain focussed.
Look at how focussed Nicol David is with her squash exploits. To remain world squash champion for the length of time she has, requires nothing short of total dedication, determination and self-belief, something that Malaysian sportsmen/women lack.
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