Sanbagamaran calls for emphasis on grassroot football

Former national player K. Sanbagamaran has pleaded football authorities to focus on developing young players to help Malaysia qualify for the FIFA World Cup in the future.

The Harimau Malaya have never qualified for the World Cup ever since the tournament's inception in 1934, with their bid to qualify for the 2014 edition in Brazil being ended by Singapore in July 2011.

Speaking at Padang Awam Semenyih, where the final leg of Revive Isotonic’s Rev-kan Your Padang took place, Sanbagamaran stated that the players should not be completely blamed for the national team’s failure on the international scene.

“With what we have now, there is nowhere we can qualify for the World Cup,” the former Selangor captain said on Saturday.

“The players are [unfortunately] the best we have now. It’s difficult for the national head coach not to pick the same players every time when we only have 24 teams playing professionally in the Super League and Premier League.

“In comparison to England or Europe where their national managers have the luxury of picking players from hundreds of clubs, we only have a very small pool of players to choose from.”

Sanbagamaran, now assistant coach of FAM League side MISC-MIFA (Malaysia Indian Sports Council-Malaysia Indian Football Association), suggested that grassroot football would be the key to the nation’s qualification for the World Cup.

“If we ever want to stand a chance [to qualify for the World Cup], everything has to be changed, starting from the grassroot level because how can we aim for the top if we do not have a good foundation?

“We should also bring in foreign coaches who are good in developing young players to assist us.

“It will not be easy, but it can be done. Then, maybe in 20 years’ time, we will see Malaysia playing in the World Cup.”