29 May 2006

How much lower can we go?

Malaysia 2 - MyTeam 1

Malaysian soccer sunk to a new low last night when the Malaysian national team just barely beat MyTeam 2 - 1 at the National Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. If not for an injury time MyTeam shot that hit the crossbar, it would have even been an very embarassing 2-2.

First, a bit of background to all the hoo-ha.

The MyTeam project is basically a reality style TV football show set up by corporate sponsors and cast of thousands and involving Shebby Singh (a popular EPL football pundit) as coach. The idea is to pick a team of amateur football players from all over Malaysia via a series of auditions ala American Idol style, train them for three months and finally let them play against the Malaysian national team. The whole idea is to uncover new football talents and let them have a chance to be noticed.

The Football Association of Malaysia is agreeable to the idea and culminated in the match last night. (For more details go Google for it).

Now consider the national team that turned up last night:

The so-called Malaysian national team, now known as the Malaysian Selection (for whatever reason I do not know), is not even a full strength team because FAM is probably scared that what if a full strength team loses? Might as well field the under-20 or whatever team so that in case they lose, FAM can come up with the classic "that is not our normal national team" excuse and save face.

Anyway, this national team is supposed to consist of proper (maybe even pro) soccer players with better than average fitness, ball handling skills, etc etc.

Yet, they have let MyTeam run rings around them from time to time and have to resort to rough play tactics to intimidate MyTeam players.

And a 2-1 winning margin is not something they can crow about. People expect them to win 7-0 or something like that.

Why? Consider the MyTeam:

A bunch of amateur soccer players selected from all corners of the country who do not know each other before that, and have only trained together for 3 months. Pure case of lambs to the slaughter.

Their weaknesses :

Lack of fitness.
Poor ball possession skills.
Poor passing skills.
Poor defending skills.
Everyone wants to be Maradona and run solo.

Their strength :

They have the heart for the game. And they looked hungry. (not in the gastronomic sense).

And that MyTeam goal that made the national team's players wet their pants? David Beckham would have been proud of the scorer Arun, had he seen it. Perfect lob shot from the right corner of the penalty box to the top left hand corner of the goal that caught the goalie sleeping, and it is not even a set piece. Will someone go sign this guy? He's got potential!

So, a national team only managed to beat an amateur team 2-1 (it could have been 2-2). How much lower can Malaysian soccer sink?