OVER 50% of the football team is composed of naturalised players from abroad. The absence of local talents raises questions. Despite the introduction of foreign players to enhance our team’s international standing, we currently hold the 130th position in Fifa rankings and ended up at the bottom of the standings in the Asian Cup group stage in Doha.

Incorporating foreign football players into our team undermines the recognition of our local talent, sending a message to the world that we lack homegrown prodigies and skilled players.

It is essential to recall the glory days of the 70s when we dominated the football arena with our exceptional players.

Datuk Mokhtar Dahari, Shaharudin Abdullah, Datuk Namat Abdullah, Datuk M. Chandran, Datuk Arumugam Rengasamy, Datuk Hasan Sani, Datuk James Wong, Datuk Santokh Singh, Datuk Soh Chin Aun, Datuk Shukor Salleh, Serbegeth Singh, Isa Bakar and Chow Chee Keong are among the esteemed local players who brought fame, glory and honour to our nation.

During that era, we were indeed the roaring tigers, characterised by players who exhibited true grit and a fighting spirit. The team boasted a diverse composition, featuring Sarawakians, Sabahans, Malays, Chinese, Indians and Bengalis. The team’s achievements made us proud, and we felt a strong sense of identification with the players.

I will not be surprised that in our pursuit of fame and glory, we consider naturalising players such as Lionel Messi, Neymar or Harry Kane. Even if such a team were to win the World Cup, it will not bring genuine glory or fame to our nation.

The current team lacks reflection of Malaysia’s culture, ethos and spirit. It is essential to scout for young local talents who embody the true Malaysian spirit, and nurture them through our football academy.

While a foreign professional may serve as the coach, the team should comprise solely of Malaysians.

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