Winners & Losers: FAM lead the AFC Cup fight for Malaysian clubs
The past week has been lacking in competitive football action, with the Malaysia Cup making way for the international friendlies.
But despite that, there are still some talking points about football in Malaysia, and FourFourTwo Malaysia highlights some of the heroes and villains of the past week.
Football Association of Malaysia
The word hero is not often associated with the national body, but they have to be applauded for their latest initiative to help Malaysian teams.
FAM are in the midst of trying to get AFC Cup slot, to accompany the Asian Champions League ticket for Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
The Asian Football Confederations rule for 2019 dictates the team who does not make it past the Asian Champions League (ACL) qualifiers, will not have the solace of the AFC Cup which is Asia’s second tier competition.
In the past, it has proven very difficult for JDT to get past the ACL qualifiers, where usually Thai teams are the opponents.
However, this time, if Pahang or Perak fail in the qualifiers, they could still look forward to the AFC Cup.
It can be a challenge to find foreign players who are consistent performers for their clubs. Sometimes, if these imports feel their clubs are giving any confirmation on their future, they will make a decision to leave.
Ken Ilso and Zachary Anderson did that last season when Kedah refused to give them any surety about their future.
But Sandro, who has been magnificent for the Red Eagles all season, has just pledged his future to the club and says he wants to remain for next season.
This despite the Kedah management not having any talks with the Brazilian midfielder over his future.
Sandro has already made 100 appearances for Kedah, and amassed 50 goals in the process.
That is a good return for a midfielder who could walk in to a lot of other clubs.
Kedah better treasure Sandro, or he may be forced to leave his beloved club for greener pastures, and no one can blame him for that.
Terengganu City FC
This team has just won the FAM league, and they should be celebrating promotion to the Premier League.
But instead of rejoicing, Terengganu City’s participation in next season’s second division is in doubt due to their huge financial woe.
The club side owe six of their players RM238,000, and they do not have the financial backing of the state government to compete in the 2019 Premier League.
So, if the club fails to find a sponsor at the soonest, all their hard work will be undone.
Malaysian clubs are constantly fighting to keep their heads above water, due to frivolous spending, over-reliance on the state government funds and lack of foresight on how to attract sponsors.
Terengganu City is the latest club to find themselves in this muddle, and they could be worse off despite just winning a title.
After the inspired run of the Malaysia Under-23 side, it was the turn of the senior team to step-up and show their worth.
They were in the ideal situation to do so too, playing in a friendly against Chinese Taipei who were in a slump.
But the Malaysians made their opponents looks superior and slumped to a deserved 2-0 defeat.
Sure, they played on a water-logged pitch, but so did Chinese Taipei.
Malaysia just did not have any creativity and penetration upfront, and looked shaky in defence.
After this, they face another big test against Cambodia led by Keisuke Honda.
If they lose again, head coach Tan Cheng Hoe will have plenty of work to do ahead of November’s AFF Suzuki Cup.