(P.S: thought want tohave this blog entry posted straight after the Lions' successful run in the Asean Football Championship, but second thought I decided to wait till now and see how's the reaction.)
While the media, fans are lauding the success of the national team in retaining their regional supremacy, there's still a group of guys simply don't buy that as an accomplishment.
"They were just lucky, as you can see the midfield were not up to task against the Thais." said one of those I heard.
"Is this the type of football they played, for earning 4k?" said another.
And that classic comment of all,” they are not as good as those last times who played for the national team."
If the first two quotes do make sense to some, fine. I would have some thoughts on the last statement.
Just days before the second-leg of the semi-final between Malaysia and us, one of my co-workers made one such "comparison" comments.
"Just take who we have during the 70s - Dollah Kassim, S Rajagopal, Quah Kim Song lah and the defence jaga (marshalled) by Allapitchay was hard to break down!" said my co-worker.
Upon hearing that, I asked, "Since with Uncle Choo (Seng Quee, probably the best coach we had) around that time, why didn't we made it to the Asia Cup then?"
Dead silence drew upon when I asked that.
Apparently, there was not answer to my question from this group of my colleagues, as they mercilessly panned the effort of the Lions who did us proud.
Comparison is rather a dirty word, in a sense that it would eventually kill one career.
During the 90's, I came across how the likes of Fandi and Co. can't "compare to" the likes of Kim Song, Dollah and co.
Yet, just long after we retained the title, similar remarks were made by some.
"They played like SH*T" remarked this guy.
"I can tell you, if they continued like this, they will kena teruk, teruk.
"To think these guys are earning thousands a month playing football, compare them to Fandi who they all are part-timers!!" said this guy.
(Where in actual fact that Fandi and company were considered the pioneer group of pro footballers in our times.)
With that, I bring myself back to the early 90s that Fandi and co were then mercilessly panned by the media for not able to attain the status of those class of the 70s.
"One half team" is the most common-used tag bestowed on that star-studded squad, as to some fans, the team was capable to play only one half of the game before went into hibernation after the break.
Nonetheless, after clinching the double in 1994, this team was disbanded after we decided to withdraw from the Malaysian League.
Still, the legacy left behind and ensured this team's status among the local football folklore.
No doubt about that each team, players have their own merits and shortcomings but to draw comparison between teams from different eras, I simply find it absurd.
First of all, they simply don't have the chance to pit against each other.
How fair are these "experts" to compare the teams?
Base on what criteria set, should we gauge the each and individual team and players?
Not being rude or whatsoever, I would like to point out that other than winning the grand prize of a domestic tournament, what did the class of the 70s achieved? And reiterated that since Uncle Choo was around then, shouldn't we made it to the Asia Cup or something big?
After all, the results are what matter the most.
The post-Malaysia Cup national teams had proven their capabilities by clinching the regional titles not once but three times, something their predecessors never done it before.
While nay-sayers were quick to say these teams were just being lucky to secure the honours but one can't denied the fact that they did it.
Football is a cruel game which whoever win by scoring more than their opponents, not simply because one team play better.
If rules allow the latter factor to decide the winners, few would disagree that the "Magic Magyars" should win the World Cup in 1954, or the "Total Footballers" from Holland should be awarded the cup in 1974.
Furthermore, one should take into account where we won the Tiger Cup (now called the Asean Football Championship).
We did it in Hanoi in 1998 against the Vietnamese who backed by their partisan crowds.
We secured a two-goal advantage in the intimidating Senanyang in Jakarta, two years ago.
Against the sea of yellow-shirted Thai fans, we walked away with the Cup.
All these feats can't be achieved if not the belief in "believe in yourself".
Coach Raddy shall be credited for this transformation, for his fulfilment in delivered what he promised.
Have we not heard what his predecessors claimed to "drop any unperformed players" but how many dare to?
Knowning his charges were not on par in terms of skills with their opponents, coach Raddy's ability to motivate his team and shrewd tactics planning had succeed in many times to produce some shocking results.
So whatever it is, don't discredit the players because they are one of us who made us proud.