That crazy football night in Jakarta brings back memories


A winning goal in the dying moments of extra time to clinch a 3-2 win over Indonesia in  the 2022 World Cup football qualifying round in Asia…. though marred by violence from some elements in the crowd, the game brought back memories of the the multi-ethnic Malaysian teams of the 1970s at a time when the nation was an Asian football powerhouse.

I thought Zaid Ibrahim summed up the Malaysian team’s latest achievement best in Malaysiakini:

Lauding the Malaysians for their sterling performance, former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim said the team had also scored three goals against hate speech, racial profiling and xenophobia.

Zaid noted how Gambian-born striker Mohamadou Sumareh, who became a Malaysian citizen in April 2018, scored two goals, including the winning goal during the added time in the 3-2 thriller.

Zaid said Africans in Malaysia are often subjected to discrimination and recalled a scathing editorial in Sinar Harian which questioned their contribution to Malaysia.

Citing their involvement in criminal activities, the editorial in July had referred to them using the Malay derogatory term “Awang Hitam” and urged the government to teach them a lesson.

Zaid said those who have been fanning racial and religious sentiments must not forget that the coach for the national team is a Chinese Malaysian, Tan Cheng Hoe, who is not a Muslim.

The national team, he added, also comprised Australian-born Brendan Gan and La’Vere Lawrence Corbin-Ong, both of whom have a Malaysian parent.

“So this shows how disingenuous it is to form a generalised opinion about a particular race or religion because of the actions of one or a handful of people.

“There is good and bad in all things and people…

Some of most memorable moments in Malaysian team sports in recent decades have come with teams and coaches with a distinctly multi-ethnic flavour.

Recall the multi-ethnic Malaysian team qualifying for the 1980 Olympic football tournament – a triumph that inspired the box office hit Ola Bola. Look how they overcame South Korea:

I was there at the Penang City Stadium in 1974 to witness the rapturous scenes when a multi-ethnic Penang side captained by Namat Abdullah trounced Singapore 4-1 in the first leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-finals before winning the second leg 3-2 away. Penang would go on to clinch the Malaysia Cup that year.

Remember the 1992 Thomas Cup badminton winning team? A triumph of multi-ethnic collaboration.

And who can forget the 1975 World Cup hockey Malaysian victory over defending champions Netherlands. Brilliantly multi-ethnic, the team captured the imagination of the nation. I skipped class to watch the Malaysia-India semi-final (which Malaysia narrowly lost). Watch the video from 22:30.

Multi-ethnic sports teams provide a fleeting glimpse of what is possible when we celebrate our diversity and showcase our inclusivity, infused with strong team spirit and backed by an entire nation. Even if they are mono-ethnic, it doesn’t matter – if everyone is given a fair opportunity from the grassroots level to rise to the national team and only the best are selected. The key is fair opportunities and encouragement for all to give it a shot.

And even if the euphoria is just fleeting – before we sink again to racial and religious politicking – it shows us what is possible if we put aside our differences, come together and build on one another’s potential and talent. Let us cast away hate speech, racial profiling and xenophobia (hatred of foreigners) and accept one another as a family.

Hopefully, one day soon, we will see Malaysians and others in this country overcoming their differences and working hand-in-hand to build a more just and inclusive nation.

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Remember our Hockey team that got 4th in the World Cup in KL in 1975?

Recently The Star show the team picture of 16 players, only two were Malays. Remember Sri Shan and Poon Fook Loke?

Today the national Hockey team is dominated 99% by Malay players. What happened to the Indian, Sikh and Chinese players? Could it be the selection process is biased?

That is why I no longer follow or support the national Hockey team anymore!

Lim Goh Poh

Why Msia Indians and Singhs no more playing hockey remain a puzzle no more when ee can witness preferential treatments not based on merits even from school days.

Aaron Pang

Many Malaysian born young and talented aspiring footballers have bitterly complained that due to racism and religious bigotry by the Malay Muslim football authorities, they are not given a fair chance to develop their talent and represent their State or Nation. There is a ‘quota’ system where a football squad (allegedly) has to show the highest number of Malays and Muslims even though they have inferior talent compared to non-Muslims. They have now taken their religious bigotry further by employing Muslim foreigners to strengthen our teams. Mahathir has called the Malay Muslims ‘lazy’ who should not blame other Malaysian races… Read more »

Milk Tea

Mahathir just came back from Japan. Maybe he is ashamed and shock of their work culture. Imagine the country the size of Malaysia has the same gdp as Singapore. Sadly but honestly speaking, only places in Malaysia that had substantial minority population, that place strives.

Milk Tea

Lol, no one watches Hockey in Malaysia. Back to the match, it somehow ended with fiery battle among the supporters, prompting action from FIFA. Nothing to celebrate much, all of it are overshadowed by our uncivilised supporters. The racists stayed racist.


Race hegemonism! It is worse than kia su syndrome. And the end result (in almost everything) is a collective suffering (by all Malaysians) when this race hegemonism often goes wrong.
More excuses for that sold M. Dilemma?


Penang Free School hockey team was the most feared in the 50s – end 70s. After that era, what happened was as good as a guess of the death of formidable dinos.

Don Anamalai

My favourite player of the 1974 squad is A Francis – good in short corner shot.

I know nothing about the current squad.
The Indians have mostly switched to playing cricket, with those Indian expatriates.


Actually no big deal for old Football fans like me because Malaysia in the past can beat Japan and South Korea. Just check the results of the Merdeka tournament of the 70s. Everything has gone downhill since the local footballers turned semi-pro and then professional.

So what is there to be excited when the well-paid professional footballers today have to work hard to beat the likes of Indonesia? Harimau Malaya would not have done it without the naturalised foreign player!

I doubt the team could beat Thailand or Vietnam.

Lazlo Low

Don’t follow football anymore.

It has lost all the ‘romance’ since it is all about money. Players are highly paid and the fans have pay big money for sports on TV (Just look at Astro) and merchandise like jerseys!

Locally that JDT team is killing football with money obtained from Chinese developers! Good players are bought and not played just to deprive the opposing teams!


Both Japan and South Korea have qualified many times for World Cup finals. Malaysia used to beat them but Malaysia still syiok sendiri with kampung football.

Charlie Boom

Malaysian sports is poor because the associations are poorly managed, and those politicians or royalty tend to interfere with team selection. Just look at our Badminton.

Lim Goh Poh

JDT football can invest millons because the patron of Royalty who are rich and smart in business dealings eg Forest City developments.
Penang football can also flourish if islands reclaimation profit goes to fund the development.


You are right. That is why foreign coaches like Park Joo Bong (who has made Japan a badminton powerhouse) and Morten Frost left BAM in frustration because the BAM officials who know nothing about the sports overrule their sporting decisions and interfere with team selection/tactical play.

Xiao Xu

Park Joo Bong quit BAM for reasons we all know and later join the Japan team to bring success to the nation. Jeremy Gan is now coachong Japanese mixed double to great success, at least knowing the weaknesses of Malaysian pair.

BAM prefer Misbun Sidek for the obvious reason.
Our fortune has gone downhill since then.

Lim Goh Poh

If Misbun can produce another world beater in Lee Shi Jia then we can confirm Misbun is a true maestro. Otherwise Chong Wei’s past success mainly from his own talent and hard work.

Yue Yeh

Lee Chong Wei has a good business mind.

By giving credits to Misbun, he will win the hearts of Malays (remember not all like chinese, as evident in boycotting non-muslim products recently), who are majority consumers that Chong Wei’s sponsors are targeting with advertisement (Samsung, 100 Plus, Yonex etc). This is further mentioned in his movie.

So it is a business strategy to satisfy his sponsors.

Milk Tea

Inclusive nation? The nation is not moving in that direction whatsoever. Indian and Chinese(especially) are blamed for everything. Singapore is still light years ahead of Malaysia, at least I don’t see them blaming their minorities for everything.


The government is developing young Malay students to take up archery by sponsoring the Malay schools financially hoping for them to be Olympians one day.

Chinese schools do not get such generous funding!

Meng Tat

Malaysia wasted lots of money on podium program.
Unlikely to get an Olympic gold in Japan next year.
Better channel the money to telecast live sports programs like EPL football on RTM TV.

Don Anamalai

BAM tok kok with its new Project 24 (more like a presentation to get sponsorship money) that will dismiss players that fail to perform between now and 2024. The more important thing how to dismiss those BAM office bearers and coaches that have failed so far?

Leadership by example. The current BAM chief Norma should resign since BAM had failed miserably since the last Olympic. Unlikely for Malaysia to win a Badminton medal in Tokyo Olympic!

Aaron Pang

Hardly watch football on TV ever since Astro imposed high subscription fee for sports.

Actually Astro need not engage the foreign football pundits (mostly washed-out ex-footballers from UK) to talk east talk west to insult our football intelligence. Without these pundits, Astro can cut cost and bring down the subscription fees. Do you agree?

Milk Tea

So true. Please bring in more local pundits instead, who (care) about Louis Saha and the likes… It would be a different story if they could bring in Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger.

Don Anamalai

If you have home internet, I suggest you buy the OTT TV Box to watch live football. No need to pay the exorbitant Astro subscription.

Rui Fern

Malaysian sports cannot progress because of too much political interference. The key office bearers of sports associations are mostly politicians. Please keep politics away fro our sports!


Recalling Mokthar Dahari, Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, Zainal Abidin Hassan, James Wong, Hassan Sani, Chow Chee Keong + R. Arumugam (goal keepers) & Isa Bakar bunch of terror whether in formidable Kalang Roar (SingLand Lion failed miserably to roar fear + score) or Merdeka Stadium. The moments of unseated anxiety turned Malaya exhilaration in the heat of night (much better than 308) are unforgettable. Neighbours of different ethnicity also roared like harimau in unison (much like shouts of Merdeka!) over live telecasts (thanks Dunhill sponsor) screened on overheated CRT TVs (CRT stands for cathode ray tube). That’s truly Ola… Read more »


The Malaysian Ultras supporters must behave themselves when in stadium like the one in Jakarta. They are rowdy and act like hooligsns therefore get the same treatment from the Indon fans.

Lim Goh Poh

Malaysia vs UAE football tomorrow (10 Sep).
Anil can provide live feed on scoreline to revive football interest?
Sumareh could be targeted so better put Partiban on the flank to surprise them with his speed.


Anil can you remember that former Penang footballer Baskaran? A no-nonsense player packjng a powerful long shot. Today’s players are so lame dedpite getting good salary.

Don Anamalai

N Baskaran is a Penang player in the 80s.
Anil is only familiar with 70s players.
That is how I see it.