KUCHING: After Sarawak’s promotion to the Malaysian Super League (MSL) next season, it looks like that Sarawakian football is on the rise.
The Crocs have returned to Malaysia’s top flight.
Now their biggest job is to stay there and hopefully show some glimpse of the Sarawak team that dominated the nation football arena in the 1990s.
Fans of the Crocs have every right not to go to matches during their lackluster performances in the first decade after the millennium.
Who can blame them? Just like any other football scene around the world, football is a matter of pride.
It could be territorial and even national envy. So who wants their pride to be scarred and humiliated?
The fans cannot be blamed if their support is not 100 per cent or “die-hard” too like the ones we see in Europe and South America.
We do not involve political circumstances like the ones we see in football clubs of Italy or Argentina. Our league is not high-profiled or glamorous like the English Premier League or Spanish La Liga. We haven’t even reach the standards of the leagues of our fellow Asian countries like Japan or the football leagues in the Arab world.
Do not involve the fan when it comes to performances, good or bad. The fans are just there when team wins.
Sad but true, that’s a fact. A fact that is here in Malaysian football.
What fans have to say
In The Borneo Post’s recent interviews from randomly selected people met on the streets, their responses were not overall optimistic but still, hoped for the Crocs to be the force they were once were, are still high.
Maybe it is connected to local culture and pride, but football is still the leading sport in Sarawak and Malaysia.
According to Fairul Samsudin, a recording technician and soundman from Simunjan, he was once an avid fan of the Crocs, but then again waned on his interest when they were not doing well in the league.
When he was asked about the current Sarawak team, he said that he will be following them for the next season but he is skeptical whether Sarawak will perform well in next year’s Super League.
Such comments could be very demotivating for the players but comments like that can be easily flushed down the drain by very powerful performances and results.
On the team management, few fans agreed that Sarawak showed some improvement in the management of the team and the current team looked more organised thus helped the Crocs in their performances on the pitch.
This was with all due respect to the previous management of the team who also did their very best for Sarawak’s football.
Sim Kok How, a businessman from Stampin, said that good man-management of the squad is vital for the team’s management and he too believes that the current management has what it takes to take the team forward.
Ezra Moses, a factory worker from Dalat agreed with Alan Vest (former manager-coach during Sarawak’s glorious years) that Sarawak must spot the potential of the local player when they are still in their early age. He also added that Sarawak must be more aggressive in searching for local talents as Sarawak, geographical-wise, is the biggest state in Malaysia.
When asked about the Sarawak Football Development Programme (SFDP), they agreed that it was about time that such programmes to be introduced to Sarawak’s football if it wants to be serious title contenders and a force to be reckoned with in Malaysian football.
Currently it looks like Sarawak is going the right way at the moment, the only thing now is for them to win and woo fans to come back and fill up the stands of the State Stadium.
For the fans, they must also give their undivided support because the fans are always considered the “twelfth man” on the pitch hence are also a part of the team. Good teamwork brings good results.
The ‘Borneo Derby’ renews rivalry
Sarawak 1-0 triumph over neighbours Sabah on Dec 20 and a goalless draw two days later should be hailed as the Crocs had shown a lot of commitment and proved they are able to win tough matches.
It is a good team made-up of young players and had beef up the squad with mature and experienced players ahead of their Super League assignments next year because at that level the competition is fierce. Against the Rhinos, it was a difficult match but obviously the fans kept them going by giving them the much needed support.
Sarawak is now a Super League team and the fans can be proud of their team’s ascending to the top league in Malaysian football arena.
Having won promotion to the Super League, they started well in their Pre-season friendlies in Bandung Indonesia and remain unbeaten in their first five games.
The team plays good attractive football, and it’s what the fans want to see – good, attacking football that eventually led them to promotion to the Super League.
Judging by the friendlies against the Sabah Super League team recently, Sarawak are a well-balanced squad and show good combination in attack and defensive manoeuvres.
For now, the Crocs are concentrating solely on staying in the top half of the ladder of the 2012 season.