Sunday, March 18, 2012

Football Game With A National Player

"In football you have an adversary;
in cinema that adversary is yourself."

Eric Cantona,
former French international footballer


Yup, I kid you not; we played bola with a Malaysian player, in Japan recently.

About a couple of weeks ago, the Malaysian students in Yokohama expressed their wish to have a friendly football match with us in Chiba. After all the arrangements were made, the Chiba-ians (pun unintended) agreed to be the host and the venue for the game was at Fukuda Denshi Square, near Soga Station.

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This is Fukuda Denshi Arena, the home venue to JEF United in the J-League Division 2, which has a capacity of 18,500 seats.

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United Park, where the fans can purchase the team's official merchandise.

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Fukuda Denshi Square, which has artificial pitch for football, futsal and rugby.

It was raining since the previous night until the next morning of the day we were suppose to have our friendly match. I was complementing, whether or not to join the rest for the game. You know, in winter, with the rain, coldness and everything, you will sometimes just choose to tug yourself under the warm and comfortable futon. I think and think and think, and finally, something just told me that I will missed out something if I skip this game.

We dropped by at Abang Razali's house first to have a simple breakfast. But it was actually not really a simple one. Kak Shadnie made us fried bihun, fried udon, keropok ikan, budu, karipap, and a few more other food. That is not a simple breakfast at all isn't it? That is in fact, a full course breakfast, which certainly pumped us up to give our best in the game haha!

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Abang Razali, trying to get pass Amir during a short warming up session before the game. 

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Pre-game team briefing by Abang Fadhil who is our player-cum-manager.

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A team photo before the game started. Not often to see Liverpool and Manchester United in the same team haha!

So, during our makan makan session, I overheard someone saying there would be a Malaysian player joining us in the friendly game. Initially, I thought I heard that wrongly; but after confirming that, it was indeed true. So, wondering who is that player? I'll firstly give a hint first; he used to play for Perak state team early in his career.

It was one of the rare times where we not only get to met up with a Malaysian football player, but we also get to play in the same team with him. How much cooler can that be, kan? Before the start of the game, we had one player wearing red, whom I shook his hands. He looks familiar, but I didn't really try to find out who he was.

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 Launching another attack towards the opponent's half in the first half.

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Another random shot from the first half.

The game between the two teams - Team Chiba Warriors and Yokohama United started despite the slight rain.

We played quite well; passing and movements went pretty smooth, despite the fact we never trained together at all. First half ended with the home team leading the Yokohama boys by two goals to one. I was the culprit in allowing the opponents to score their one goal. I carelessly lost the ball possession in the midfield, which led to a quick counter attack from them and a goal.

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Calling Sir Alex in UK to get some strategy tips for the second half haha wtf!

Leading by just one goal, we stuck to the same game plan in the second half. As the game wore off, exhaustion was evident in most of the players. It was certainly not easy to play in a cold weather where the temperature doesn't get beyond ten degree Celsius. At one point in the middle of the second half, only I remember that we had a Malaysian national player playing with us as well.

So, as the game was played, I looked around the players on the pitch, and finally managed to spot him.

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I was the centre-half for the game and here, trying to clear a ball from an advancing opponent.

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Free kick, which went wide. But like Z said, what's important is got style. Whether the ball hits the net or not is a different story haha!

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Both trying to control the ball while closing the eyes lol!

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And here you are, the national player I mentioned earlier. Even his walking alone looks professional.

It was Liew Kit Kong, who started his professional career with Perak state team and represented Malaysia from 1999 to 2005, in which he scored a couple of goals in the semifinals of 2004 Tiger Cup against Indonesia. He has won almost all competitions in Malaysian football - Malaysia Cup (Perak, 2000), FA Cup (Perak, 2004), Premier League (Naza FC, 2008), Super League (Selangor, 2010) and also individual award as favourite striker award of FAM football awards in 2008. He was also the top goal scorer in the Premier League in that season, with 16 goals.

It was really cool to be able to meet with him in person, because I still remember seeing him playing in the yellow Perak jersey every Saturday on TV when he was representing Perak. I was only thirteen or fourteen back then. Who'd expected that ten years later, I am playing in the same team with the very same player.

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This is how an engineer take a photo. Nice posture, Abang Razali haha!

The game ended 3-1 to the home team. Winning or losing was not the main thing, because we were all already super hungry to return to the International House as a makan session was waiting for us in the afternoon haha!

We had some chats with Kit Kong during the makan session and we managed to ask him dressing-room kinda questions; those questions and stories which normally aren't reported in the news. He also shared some interesting stories, his experience with the state teams and national team. Now I know why he left Perak for Kedah for one season, before returning to Perak eventually. Apparently, he couldn't get along well with the then Perak coach, M. Karathu.

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Everyone was dead tired at the end of the game, but we all had great fun.

And now I know why Perak was successful in the late 90's and early 2000, when the German Karl-Heinz Weigang was the coach. A former Malaysian coach from 1979 to 1982, he was a no-nonsense person and all the players, no matter how good the player is, fear him. According to Kit Kong, every time they hear the sound made by Weigang's leather shoes, they knew he was reaching the dressing room very soon and the whole room will turn to total silent. That is how much discipline the German has instilled in the players.

Any players who thinks they are above the team, will be shown the exit door, and one good example was László Répási from Hungary. Although he was signed in the middle of the season, he ended up being the top scorer in 1997. However, he is kinda a selfish player, who loves to over-do his dribbling and ended up losing the ball possessions to the opponent during the game, although the coach has instructed the team to stick to three-touch rule.

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Team Chiba Warriors, all in smile after winning the battle. I do think the breakfast really helped us a lot lol!

So, during a training session one day, Weigang asked him to get pass 22 players since he thinks he can dribbles like Lionel Messi. As expected, he failed to do that, and on the next day, he terminated his contract lol! Also, Weigang apparently has some of anak emas (golden son) in the Perak team; Azrul Amri Burhan and Chan Wing Hoong are among his lovable players. They are the players whom he will just listen to their opinions (team play, strategies, etc.) most of the time.

It was certainly very interesting to hear to these kind of stories and I really look forward to play with Kit Kong again next time.

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The players from the two teams, posing for a group photo at the end of the game, with the Fukuda Denshi Arena at the background.

Thanks a lot everyone who was involved in the game and the makan session that followed. I guess I will miss the people in Chiba a lot!

2 comments:

FnF Simple Life said...

Hope we can still keep in touch... Tokyo - Chiba tak jauh pun kan... ;)

calvin said...

@ fnf simple life:
yup, we will definitely met again in future events!