Bhutan is well known for being one of the happiest nation in the world but not for its footballing prowess. But now Bhutan plays better football than Malaysia. According to the latest FIFA ranking, Bhutan is placed above Malaysia’s 164th! The latest ranking not only placed Malaysia among the lowest in the Asian countries but also lowest among the senior ASEAN nations. I cannot imagine Malaysia which regularly beat the Philipines with double figures scores in the 80s and 70s is now ranked below them. The same goes for Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam. Apart from Thailand, these countries were constantly beaten by us in the past. I wonder how low can we go. I shudder to compare us with the African nations where the countries torn by wars and draughts with hardly any so called football fields fared a lot better than us. Look at Burkina Faso, Mali, Congo, Ethiopia, Chad, etc.
In the meantime, the New Straits Times reported that many of our footballers are being paid more than RM50,000.00 a month! Nor Sharul Idlan had his contract with the ATM cut short because the Gladiators cannot pay him the RM80K a month as per the contract and he was quickly snapped up by Terengganu which is more than willing to pay that amount. The so called Malaysian Man City, The JDT, really up the ante in terms of paying footballers in this country. They pay Shafiq Rahim RM75K, Figeroa RM175K, Safee Sali RM40K and a host of other household names in Malaysian football, all in the excess of RM40K a month. It was also reported that the FA of Perlis last year had trouble to pay their footballers. They had to go without pay for more than three months. I don’t suppose Perlis players got paid with the amount their JDT counterparts are getting. I heard it was only RM3-5K a month. I wonder how much Bhutan pays their footballers.
Azman Ujang, the former Bernama Chief also wrote in the Sun that if you look at the team sheet of any of the Malaysian Super League or Premier League teams, you hardly see any chinese names anymore. Whatever happen to the likes of Soh Chin Aun, Wong Kam Fook, Wong Choon Wah, Tang Siew Seng, Lim Teong Kim, James Wong? If I remember correctly Perak had Chan Wing Hoong a few years ago and that was the last of the few. Even Penang, Sarawak, Malacca, and KL, the states that normally have a number of chinese players do not have them anymore. Where have all they gone ? Azman blamed the school system. In the old days, talents came from the schools and the national schools football fields were the fertile grooming ground for multi ethnic talents. According to Azman, these days, chinese parents preferred to send their charges to chinese schools where basketball courts easily outnumbered football fields. Hence, the boys had little chance to play football and less and less chinese boys get selected to play at a higher level. While we still have the likes of Chanturu, Gunalan, and Kunanlan we do not see any more Chan Wing Hoong, Yap Wai Loon, Chin Hong Aik, and Chow Chee Keong. I wonder whether the point put forward by Azman is valid, as Singapore, which has no issue with the schooling system, is facing the same problem. They had trouble finding players to fill the boots of Lee Man Hon, Steven Tan and the great Quah Kim Song. Maybe we all should go to Bhutan, not only they are happy, their football standards are better.