Thanks to a Dutchman the First Malaysia International Football Symposium was a catalyst in developing the Dream of Malaysia to play in the World Cup 2022 which will be held in Qatar from Nov 21-Dec 18.
Robert Alberts, the then FA of Malaysia Technical Director, was the prime mover for the symposium although the FAM told him that its coffers were dry. It did not deter Alberts who is now the head coach of Indonesian Liga 1 club Persib Bandung.
Somehow, Roberts managed to get the required funds – RM100,000 – for the symposium that was held in Kuala Lumpur from Dec 18-20, 2006. He secured the funds from the National Sports Council and the National Sports Institute.
Football experts from around the world were invited to share their experience and vision for Malaysia to achieve its dream – a realistic dream and fighting chance to play in the World Cup.
The experts shared their knowledge and were a motivation for Malaysia’s dream – far fetched to many.
Among those who spoke at the symposium was Japan FA’s Technical Director Takeshi Ono who spoke on Japan and the World Cup Experience, using it to defend the Asian Cup 2007 and Vision Japan 2050.
FIFA’s Technical Development head Dr. Gyorgy Mezey spoke on Technical Development while Alberts spoke on the Development of Malaysian Football. The late Dato Peter Velapan’s (General Secretary of AFC) topic was the Development of Football in Asia.
Dato Windsor Paul (the current AFC secretary-general) was the FIFA Technical Coordinator at the symposium.
Coming back to Malaysia’s hopes, aspirations, and Dream the Harimau Malaya are currently second in Group G with nine points after five matches. Asean champions Vietnam is on top with 11 points. Thailand is third on eight points and the UAE (with a game in hand) is in fourth spot with six points. Indonesia is at the bottom without a point, having lost all five matches.
Malaysian participants came from all over the country to show that the Dream lives amongst many in Malaysia as football is the number one sport in a country of 32 million.
It is not easy but that Dream is a challenge that lives on as Harimau Malaya under Tan Cheng Hoe as the head coach has a realistic chance of making the grade from Group G that has Vietnam, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia.
Hard work and focused to raise the level of quality in football in the country have seen a steady upward curve. Malaysia is currently ranked 154. Vietnam is Asean No 1 at 94 with Thailand at 113, the Philippines 124 and Myanmar 136.
Japan is No 1 in Asia at 28 followed by Iran at 33, South Korea (40) and Australia two rungs below.
With pandemic Corvid-19 playing havoc throughout the world, the guessing game continues for Cheng Hoe and the company.
However, all the players have been given personal training schedules wile Cheng Hoe keeps is fingers crossed that the pandemic ends soon. RIZAL ABDULLAH