MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Anyone watching Malaysia Cup final tonight?


The Malaysia Cup final was a match that used to stop the country. It was football’s biggest day out.

It was a famous annual carnival, the centrepiece of the nation’s favourite pastime, the climax of a long season, and a pseudo public holiday for the family to enjoy.

It had it all – thrills, spills, giant-killers, fairytale runs, stunning goals and some of the greatest players in Malaysian football.

The truth is the oldest football tournament in Southeast Asia will never hold the public’s interest in the same way it did decades ago.

Things change, football has changed and it’s hard to see how the magic of the Malaysia Cup can ever be restored.

The guardians of football could not have done a worse job as keepers of the flame.

Could an incredible final tonight between Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and Kuala Lumpur FC in the 100th anniversary of the tournament relight the fire?

The National Stadium at Bukit Jalil will see 50% of the venue capacity but how many will be watching the live telecast? Will the AFF Cup, beginning Dec 6, draw a bigger audience?

The cup final – it’s not Malaysian football’s only cup final, but it had always been THE final – isn’t quite what it was during its heydays.

A number of factors have led to the fragility of the Malaysia Cup competition. The usurping of the cup in the pecking order, for a start.

In terms of importance, the Malaysia Cup is way behind the Super League and even the FA Cup.

The Malaysia Cup champions were never part of an Asian football party because the Super League winners made the Asian Champions League while the FA Cup victors played in the second-tier Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.

This year, however, the winners will get a ticket to the AFC Cup because the Malaysian Football League (MFL) scrapped the FA Cup due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That might provide an option for international brands to sponsor Kuala Lumpur – who are in the final after 32 years – if they beat JDT, the best club in Malaysia and a sponsor’s delight.

The Southern Tigers do not seem to have a romance with the Malaysia Cup which they won only twice over the past 10 years.

They have won the Super League for the past eight years, a clear indication that the title is their most important of the three national competitions.

Downgrading the Malaysia Cup has also been cited as a reason why players stopped seeing the tournament as a highpoint of their careers.

Throw in the fact that there is a lack of television and sportswriters not writing much about the competition, and you get a situation where the illustrious old trophy has to fight its corner.

Although the Malaysian Football League’s (MFL) messing around with the schedule hasn’t helped, it’s hard to know what they could have done to boost the cup’s appeal.

Several football fans said, at the risk of being labelled unpatriotic, they had stopped following local leagues as the standard of the game was wanting and because both Malaysian players and imports were not impressive.

The adverts and a flourish of news reports on the English FA league, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A also sidetracked their attention from local leagues.

Many feel that while the Malaysia Cup seemingly offers little value, it still has something invaluable that demands a workover to make it equal to the other majors.

It deserves to be part of the game to immortalise footballers and rein in national pride.

Pride was once when the cup’s storylines fascinated fans.

Legends held a special place in the nation’s heart and the tournament was envied and admired by overseas football associations.

Little known stories such as Ng Boon Bee scoring 10 goals to help Perak reach the final against Selangor in 1959 inspire.

In 1967, while Boon Bee helped Malaysia win the Thomas Cup, another Perak player, V Ramadass Rao became the only player to have winner’s medals in both the Malaya Cup (1957) and Malaysia Cup (1967).

Playing in the final became the dream of every schoolboy and the desire of every footballer.

Victory meant putting their team on the map forever and ensured the names of players were on the lips of millions for months.

It’s depressing that on its 100th anniversary, the Malaysia Cup is not what it once meant to Malaysians. - FMT

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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