Wednesday, December 29, 2010

AFF Suzuki Cup : Final Match Tonight + Laser Issue

IT was a night like none Malaysians had seen in decades. More than 85,000 people, most of them decked in yellow, packed the National Stadium and cheered as one as the country’s football team stepped out of the doom-and-gloom of so many years.

When coach K. Rajagopal’s young boys, who had gone into the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup final, first-leg match as underdogs, scored the first goal, the roar was thunderous. They scored two more, both brilliant strikes, and the stadium erupted in joy. The final score: Malaysia 3 Indonesia 0.

The statistics were plentiful. It was Malaysia’s first AFF Cup final in 14 years; the last time they made it into the final was in the inaugural meet in 1996, losing 0-1 to Thailand. It was Malaysia’s first win over Indonesia in a Cup final match since the 1979 SEA Games final. Indeed, it was redemption time for Malaysian football.

And it did not end at the stadium. On the way home from Bukit Jalil and on the streets of cities throughout the country, perfect strangers hailed each other, slapped high-fives and sang Malaysia Boleh. Football, the beautiful game, was the unifying factor, bringing together all Malaysians.

But on Boxing Day of 2010, the ugly fan also raised his head. Some supporters at the stadium showed that they could be as stupid as any lout in the English Premiership. Flares were set off in the stands, and the Indonesian players complained of laser lights being shined into their faces, blinding them. It may have just been an excuse for what, to the Indonesians, was an unfathomable defeat. Nonetheless, it was an excuse the Malaysian fans gave the visiting side.

The unruliness forced the stoppage of play for six minutes. But that was the least of the damage done. The greater damage was yet to come. For one, credit is being taken away from the young Malaysian Tigers, who worked their socks off to pull off the fantastic result. And with the second leg due to be played today, there is an air of fear in Jakarta. Few Malaysians would dare go there for the second-leg of the final.

If Malaysian fans were unruly, the Indonesian fans are fanatical about their team and the game. One of them even died in the mad rush for tickets in Jakarta. Already, several Malaysian websites have been hacked into as an act of spite and Jakarta police are deploying 10,000 personnel to prevent possible riots.

By inciting our neighbours, we have only denied ourselves a chance to cheer our team on as they set out to make history by winning the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time ever. Liverpool’s Bill Shankly once said that football was more important than life or death. It doesn’t have to be so. The game can build great friendships, it can build bridges between neighbours. In ancient Greece, they even stopped wars to engage in sport.
Fans need to learn that they, too, have a part to play in sportsmanship. The Malaysian fans were wrong to have brought the flares and lasers to the game. Those who did need to be tracked down and punished.

The Indonesian fans, meanwhile, need to understand that any retaliation will not help matters. Anger and violence will not achieve anything. It is, after all, a football match. There will be a winner and a loser. Fans on both sides have to accept it. This is one battle best fought on the field.

When Malaysian football fans were accused of using laser lights on Indonesian football players to distract them in last Sunday’s match, it triggered a storm of fury among the Indonesians. Many Indonesians perceive the laser incident as yet another sign of Malaysian “arrogance,” and re-ignited tensions between the two countries which have never quite gone away, despite the best efforts of both governments to strengthen ties.

“I deeply regret the lack of sportsmanship from the Malaysian spectators. Such attitude shows that the Malaysian people don’t have the goodwill to build harmonious relations with the Indonesian people.

“The Malaysian press also did not condemn the use of the lasers. This will not improve future Malaysia-Indonesia relations,” said Zuhairi Misrawi, 33.

Zuhairi is a Muslim scholar from the country’s largest Muslim organisation Nahdlatul Ulama, which claims 40 million followers. Entrepreneur Bara Setiaudi said the use of lasers cannot be allowed. While some Indonesians admitted the Malaysian team had played better, they believed the laser incident would reinforce Indonesians’ negative perception of Malaysia.

“I think the Indonesian players were not good. They were slow and not playing their best,” said Benny Junito, a professional who works in the private sector.

According to Junito, the laser incident may have disrupted the Indonesian players’ concentration.

“Such incidents will increase Indonesians’ negative perception of Malaysia,” Junito added.

Junito believed Indonesians were sad with last Sunday’s match and would hope to avenge their loss in tonight’s match.

“I hope Indonesian fans will be more sporting,” said Junito.

Teuku Mufizar Mahmud, a conflict specialist, said the Malaysian fans could have shown better sportsmanship.
“I was disappointed with the laser stunt. Now the Indonesian team faces an uphill battle which can lead to a chaotic situation if they lose.”

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My remarks:

well i guess the Indonesian supporters just don’t wanna accept this lost especially to Malaysia since they were periodically have grudge on us for many issues this lately…what a shame actually when the Indonesia’s media also using this lame reason for their team to be beaten up to 3-0 at Bukit Jalil…But i just love what Rajagopal said when the Indonesia’s reporters asked him about the incident…

“When we lost to Indonesia 5-1, did i complaint? No, I admit that it was my defense mistake”

As for me, in whatever match/game when u win u just win…and when u lost u just lost…there is no reason for that…

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