Darren Goon examines if it is possible to build a good Malaysia national football team without the largest ethnic group in the country...
Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin recently had to issue a statement clarifying that the Malaysia national football team should be called “Harimau Malaysia”, instead of the oft-used “Harimau Malaya”, so as to not alienate fans in Sabah and Sarawak.
In this age of political correctness, such clarification was needed for something so trivial, despite “Harimau Malaya” being merely a Bahasa Malaysia translation of the Malayan Tiger's name. But even by doing so, is the team truly inclusive, and representative of 1Malaysia? Not always, and it does not have to be, as players should always be selected on merit.
Nonetheless, it got FourFourTwo thinking. It’s common knowledge that the majority of footballers in Malaysia are Malays, while the other races aren’t represented as much, particularly on the international stage. Case in point: last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup squad featured 20 Malays and just two Indians.
To prove that Malaysia’s other races are also capable of producing quality talent, we put together an 18-man Malaysia squad comprising just non-Malay players.