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K REUBEN
alltherage@thestar.com.my

Someone said if you want to hear a joke, just talk about Malaysian football. Whenever Malaysians talk about the local football scene, whether it’s during daily conversation with friends or articles on social media, I feel a little ache in my heart.

Malaysia’s national football team, the Harimau Malaya is often joked about, if not outright ridiculed almost passionately, and our recent 10-0 defeat against United Arab Emirates didn’t help our reputation in any way.

But no matter how bad our state, it’s difficult for me to contribute to all this negativity. I was in the national team until I was sidelined by two serious injuries to my knee and ankle, which has cost me almost two years of my career.

My only goal now is to get back to professional football and regain my form.

I’m a sportsman by nature, and we believe that defeat is never permanent. This is what I’ve told myself every time I feel broken. I also tell myself to take each day as it comes, one step at a time.

This is what I hope for Harimau Malaya as well.

I hope for Harimau Malaya to rise above the criticisms, succeed, and be the best they can be. Of course, the icing on the cake would be if I could be part of that success too!

For now, let’s push aside the disapproval and judgement, and focus on the bright side of our Malaysian football team.

Their recent 3-1 victory over Laos made me glow with pride.

Not only because it was our first victory for the year but more so because my close friend and ex-team mate Christie Jayaseelan scored two out of the three goals, and played a huge part in securing this victory.

However, I don’t remember it being talked about as much. This was our first victory for the year and we should be talking about it.

While we may have grown up watching foreign football like the English Premier League or La Liga, let’s not forget our roots.

Our wholehearted support should also be for our local state and national teams.

Speaking of state teams, Johor Darul Takzim, fondly referred to as JDT, became champions of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.

Record-breaking JDT efficiently disposed of Tajikistan league champions Istiklol 1-0 in their own backyard in the AFC Cup final, becoming the first South-east Asian club to win the trophy.

Let’s put aside all rivalry between states and clubs and let’s just allow that history-making moment sink in.

As national players, every time we enter the pitch in our black and yellow singing the national anthem, I assure you we are ready to die on that battle-ground for the pride of our nation.

My call to you today is to support us as we continue working for a better future for Malaysian football.

You and I, we have the same dream. We want to make a living but yet make history at every juncture.

Support Malaysian football: We’re taking each game as it comes, one step at a time.

BTW…

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