Over the past weekend, the local Harimau Malaya football team squared off with Bahrain at Bukit Jalil Stadium for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers. The match, which was ushered in by a heavy downpour that caused the field to flood, saw the national flag-bearing team conceding to a 1-2 loss by the end of the evening.
And while many of us may have no doubt that our national team had given it their all while hitting the turf, our Youth & Sports Minister has since caught flak over comments that he had made concerning the Malaysian contingent’s loss.
Youth & Sports Minister defends national team goalkeeper from criticism
In speaking with Utusan Malaysia, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu has urged fans not to attribute the disappointing outcome on any one player, and defended goalkeeper and skipper Farizal Marlias’ performance after he had bore the brunt of some criticism. Farizal was said to have been blamed for giving away a penalty shot to Bahrain striker Abdullah Yusuf Helal during a late point in the game, which enabled the away team to score a winning advantage.
“In games and sports, there are winners just as there are losers. In team sports, it’s inevitable that one or two members may wind up committing mistakes.
To me, Farizal has done a lot for the national team. He dedicated his life to sports, and to the match that day. Of course, I’m sure he didn’t want to lose the match but it happened. In which case, we hope that we can learn from the mistakes we committed, instead of pointing fingers and damaging his reputation as an athlete.” he said.
Suggests that cheers from fans could have caused players to lose focus
However, he adds that external factors could have also been attributed to the Malaysian team’s loss, including the loud cheering of fans.
“As I recall, some bench players were seen warming up by the field and were waiting to be brought on after the first goal, including Guilherme De Paula, which caused the entire stadium to erupt into cheer.”
“Right after that cheer, our players lost focus and conceded a goal. So I don’t think it’s fair to place the blame on our players 100%. As individuals who were present at the stadium, the fans could also have contributed to the players’ loss of focus.”
“Had I been on the field at the time, when people suddenly shouted (cheered), I could have also felt my own focus disappear a bit,” he adds.
The remark has since left many netizens in a state of incredulity, with some taking to mocking the suggestion that the Malaysian team’s loss had anything to do with loud cheers from fans.
— azrisem (@azrxzulkafli) June 13, 2022
Even embattled former-premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak has commented on the matter with some exasperation.
“Don’t tell me you’re meant to sit quietly after entering a stadium?”
An apology has been issued
In fact, the fallout has been so swift that Faizal has since issued an apology over the matter on his Twitter page.
“The cheers and encouragement from fans as a 12th player are vital and highly appreciated. My previous comments have been misinterpreted. I apologise for my mistakes.”
What are your thoughts on the Youth & Sports Minister’s remarks?