Sultan Ahmad Shah promises changes

FA of Malaysia (FAM) president Sultan Ahmad Shah has had enough with the repeated failures of the national team and has promised that drastic action will be taken to arrest the never-ending slide. Sultan Ahmad Shah intends to speak his mind at the FAM exco meeting and the state FAs can expect an earful. “I have had enough and I am going to make drastic changes when the exco meets. I have been taking criticism for far too long and I have never complained. I love football and that is why, for the last 24 years, I’ve been here,” said Sultan Ahmad Shah at the FAM ground in Kelana Jaya yesterday. “I have spent a lot of money and time in trying to improve football in the country but to no avail. There are too many weaknesses and we have to rectify all.”

The latest in a long line of embarrassing results came on Wednesday when Malaysia were thrashed 5-0 by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an Asian Cup qualifier. Sultan Ahmad Shah also took the players to task. “I am very sad to hear that only three players were fit for the match. How can this be? It is very embarrassing as we are in the professional era and football is the players’ livelihood.”

When pointed out that players have to pass a fitness test before being given the license to play in the M-League, Sultan Ahmad Shah said: “We can only introduce rules but it is up to the states and clubs to implement them. However, I hope the states and clubs are also ashamed as they too are responsible for what is happening to Malaysian football.” Asked if there was a feeling of having been betrayed by those he has always supported, Sultan Ahmad Shah said: “Well, I don’t know how to answer that. I have given my best and treated them like family and in a family, we don’t betray each other. “I understand the states have their own problems but football is a partnership and the states have to decide whether they are with us or against us.

“I am going to have a heart to heart talk with the states and I will also be writing to the presidents of all the state FAs on our plans for Malaysian football. I have had enough of being taken advantage of.” There was a little bit of criticism for national coach B. Sathianathan as well. “He should have come to see me and tell me about the Malaysian Super League situation. It is not nice to run down the league like that. “Why say only now that the league is not good, especially as he has been in charge of the national team for a year. He should have approached me.” As bad as the situation is, Sultan Ahmad Shah said he remains optimistic that Malaysia will have a strong national team again. That may be true but it also depends on whether the state FAs are willing to play ball.

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