Thursday, December 17, 2009

Malaysia National Football Team Ends 20-Year Wait For SEA Games Gold

While I was discussing the poor administration state of Malaysian football, I also touched upon the national football team having to face defending champions Thailand to enter the SEA Games semifinals. Well guess what? The Malaysian national team not only defeated Thailand 2-1 to earn the right to face hosts Laos in the semifinals, the U-23 youth squad went on to defeat Laos 3-1 and then Vietnam in the final.

The unexpected win was achieved through a Vietnamese own goal but the celebrations will carry on beyond Vientiane.

VIENTIANE - MALAYSIA beat Vietnam 1-0 in the Laos capital Vientiane on Thursday to take their first gold in the under-23 Southeast Asian Games football competition since 1989.

Vietnam, who had beaten Malaysia in the group stages, had the better of the first half but could not make their dominance count. Malaysia, superior in the second period, scored with just six minutes to go.

Under pressure from Malaysia's Talaha Norshahrul Idlan, Vietnam's Mai Xuan Hop could only divert the ball into his own net and his side were unable to find an equaliser in the time remaining.

Malaysia coach K. Rajagopal said his team were worthy winners. 'I think after the Thailand match my players showed what they have,' he said. Malaysia put holders Thailand out in the group stage, ending their run of success which started in 1993.

He said his team had shown 'a lot of determination, a lot of spirit, a fighting attitude and I think we are a good footballing team'.

'I think we deserve to be the champion of the SEA Games in 2009. I think we did beyond our expectations,' he added, saying he had encouraged his team to exploit Vietnam on the break. -- AFP

Ex-Malaysian national footballers joined in the applause for the Under-23 players and reminded all that Malaysian footballing pride has been restored. Restored that is, until the "politicians" in the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) decide to ruin whatever potential there is in the U-23 squad.
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — The national football Under-23 squad carved their own spot in history today when they beat Vietnam 1-0 in the final, ending a 20-year wait for gold in football at the biennial SEA Games.

The victory in the match held at the National Stadium, Laos Sports Complex in Vientiane, was much anticipated by both visiting fans and at home.

National footballer Dollah Salleh said he was proud of the boys’ win after two decades of waiting for gold.

“I hope this will bring cheer to everyone who loves the sport and bring back glory to Malaysian football,” he said to Bernama here today.

Dollah was among the goal scorers when Malaysia last won gold at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in 1989, defeating Singapore 3-1.

He said the success of the national Under-23 squad coached by K. Rajagobal should continue them emerge as a formidable team in the eyes of their opponents.

“I hope the players will up their performance from time to time if they want to defend their gold at the next SEA Games in Bandung, Indonesia in 2011.”

Former national football skipper Ahmad Yusof said the squad’s victory managed to heal the long-standing hurt and disappointment of every player and football fan in the country.

“The win today may also indirectly revive the spirit of every player in the Malaysia leagues which have been much belittled.

“I hope after this victory, the Malaysia football leagues would no longer be regarded as lacking quality as these leagues have managed to prove the capability of the players,” he said.

Former national football great Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat said the squad’s victory at the 25th SEA Games should be celebrated by every Malaysian.

“Football is a sport for all and those involved directly or indirectly should celebrate this historic win,” he said. — Bernama

With this gold medal in football, Malaysia captured 40 gold medals in this year's SEA games held in Laos, finishing fourth in the medal standings.

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