Malaysia won the AFF Cup aka Suzuki Cup just before the end of 2010. What a way to celebrate the new year!
Close friends of mine would know that I love football, particularly my State team, Perak; my favorite English team, Everton, and of course Malaysia.
However the Malaysian National football team (& for that matter, to a large extent; Perak too) has been so poor for so many years, that no matter how loyal I want to be, it was just too disheartening to support them. Please dont judge me as a supporter of only-winning-teams (if that is my criteria of supporting a team, I wont be supporting Everton); but it was down to the way Malaysia played. The National team for many years played poorly. We could not string more than 3 passes. Got beaten by lesser pedigree teams. Suspected of corruption. etc etc.
But on the 26th December, we played very well to beat Indonesia 3-0 at the first leg of the 2-leg final of the AFF Cup. Chow Hoong & I went for that match, and the atmosphere was thrilling. 65000 Malaysians supporting our boys, and they did not disappoint.
Half way through the 1st half, Chow Hoong turned to me and said "these boys link-play is bloody good. I think we can actually take on Indonesia". I could not agree more. Before our very eyes, we see a group of young Malaysian players trying their best to win for the Country, and they tried it in style.
When we both walked out of the Bukit Jalil Stadium, a sense of pride surrounded us. We just saw our boys beat the hell out of the favorite Indonesian team (who beat us 5-1 in Jakarta in the opening group match a few weeks ago).
Surprisingly, the tension was overwhelming the next few days. A team leading 3-0 should be relaxed and composed; but I think the sense of fear to fail overwhelmed the entire nation. They was a massive fear that we would collapse, as our National team always do at the last stage.
But that did not happen. We held our fort at Jakarta for the 2nd leg, and took a 1-0 lead in the 65th min. That effectively gave us a 4 goal lead in aggregate. Even though we lost that match 1-2, but we still won 4-2 on aggregate.
I was in Singapore during the 2nd leg, and the overwhelming feeling of pride and joy was all over me. For too long Malaysian fans has suffered in silence, and finally, we could happily celebrate a win. We are finally, the Champions of South East Asia!
There were allegations that Malaysian fans shot laser lights at the Indonesian players at Bukit Jalil stadium. I was at the stadium, and did see some laser lights shot at the Indonesian goalkeeper. It was unfortunate it happened, and though we are not 100% sure it was done by Malaysian fans; but I think it is safe to conclude that it is very unlikely that the Indonesian fans would shoot laser at their own player. In any event, the 3 goals scored by the Malaysians at Bukit Jalil was more down to determined play and poor defending by Indonesians (& not the alleged laser lights).
Well done Malaysia & Happy New Year!