Friday, June 22, 2018

Sky is beautiful when it is full of shining stars.


During this world cup, and the cups before; football lovers spend most of their time focusing on their star players and the teams they support. Since football is a team sports, and the teams consist of different levels of players, team managers use their best possible tactical arrangements to make a balance team. Most of the time, best team wins the games, not the team with best individual player.

After the World War 2, football tournaments were on world attention and the players who played in European clubs shined through their club performances while most of the talented players in other regions had to wait for their nations World Cup qualifications. The revolutionary live match telecasting technology of 1970’s and in today’s world of football; players groomed, shined and got their fame based on club level performances. We have seen stars like Diego Maradona, Zico, Ronaldo, Ronaldinio, Figo, Gullit etcWe had legends like John Cruyff and Geoge Best who never won a mojor cup for their nations, but still rated among the best players football has ever seen. Our certified coaches do know there is even a special move named under Cruyff from his magical skills and it remains one of the most commonly used dribbling  tricks in the modern game. We had such legendary stars from other continents as well.
When the world cup tournament commenced with star names and favorites, and as the matches passes on, we get confused on our predictions and what we hoped from the teams, and the star names. Take one example of such legendary player in this world cup 2018: 

Lionel Messi; from the age of 17 he spent his entire professional career with Barcelona where he has won 32 trophies, including nine La Liga  titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and six Copas del Rey.  He is often considered as the best player in the world and even regarded by some as the greatest of all time, Messi has a record five Ballon d'Or awards, a record five European Golden Shoes and won the World Player of the Year award by record voting margins. Both a prolific goal scorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most official goals scored in La Liga as well as those for most assists, he has scored over 600 senior career goals for club and country and holds Guinness World Record as top goal scorer for club and country in a calendar year: 91 goals in 2012. As Argentine international, Messi is his country's all time leading goal scorer. At youth level, he won the 2006 FIFA World Youth Championship, finishing the tournament with both the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe,and an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup during the 2006, and reached the final of the 2007 Copa America, where he was named young player of the tournament. As the squad's captain from August 2011, he led Argentina to three consecutive finals: the 2014 World Cup, for which he won the Golden Ball, and the 2015 and 2016 Copas America. He is the only Argentine player to score against every CONMEBOL nation, youngest player to reach 100 caps for a country under CONMEBOL's jurisdiction and most Argentine Footballer of the Year awards: 11. 
Such a shining star eh we can compare him with the great Diego Maradona for his personal and club level achievements, but we can’t compare with national achievements. There is a reason for that, I believe Messi is unlucky as a lone star in his national team while Diego Maradona was lucky to play surrounded with other stars like, Pompido in goal, Ruggeri in defence, Batista in Midfield and Valdano as a striker to give him a free role which brought the best out of him and won the world cup 1986 and played the final of world cup 1990 with the great goalkeeping talent of Goycochea and attacking midfielder Burruchaga. Since Argentinian playing styles are more free on play than defense, they win cups with great goalkeeping talents as when they won their first world cup in 1978 with the greatest ever goalkeeper of Argentine Ubaldo Fillol. If you are a supporter of Argentina or not; you can compare the team talent from positions. As for example just look at goalkeeper Caballero; He is at the age of 36 and playing for English club Chelsea, but only played 3 matches in last season, and he had only 5 caps for Argentina so far, Goalkeepers need team experience and goalkeepers without recent high performance experiences are a cold goalkeeper.  As “every chain will break from its weakest link” the mistake from him during the match against Croatia says it all. But still..... some Messi and Ronaldo supporters clash with each-other and compare their club performances to their national team performances. We have to think that; for clubs like Barcelona, Real, Liverpool etc... tactical system of play comes first with their managers and the clubs spent enormous amount of money to buy talented players to fill in the system. National team managers adjust their tactical systems based on the available players who hold their national identity. Therefore, it is not practical to compare National level and Club level team performances of these stars like Messi, Ronaldo or Salah.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why I oppose politicians to run Maldivian Football?

From a playing carrier of 21 years, coaching & goalkeeper training services for more than 10 years, as a youth coach and later as the appointed Treasurer of FAM for few years and more recently as the general secretary of a club, I always oppose political figures to involve in running the football association of Maldives as executives. I believe that, to deal equally with the clubs who have different view points, geographical variations and whose financing are from different sources and from supporters with different political beliefs. The executive members of the Football Association of the Maldives should not be chosen from the politicians or specifically they should not be a person who fills any politically elected posts. I have my reasons to believe what I believe. There was a time when the stadiums were full for national team matches & the first division football matches were played with an average of 3200 spectators per game, while we are playing with an average of approximate 250 spectator per first division game these days. Our football development plans were implemented by many individuals who sacrificed their wealth and time for the game without any self-greed, and until 2008, the developmental efforts were resulted as positive returns. 
As our ancestors were sporting personals with “kulhijehun” “fankulhun” “Mandikulhun” and "Thinhama"  etc…, President Ameen Didi’s youth reform efforts introduced international sports like football, cricket, volleyball, tennis, table tennis etc.. to Maldives. Which became the daily sporting activities for youths. In mid-1960's during the reign of President Ibraihm Nasir, sports tournaments were organized in annual manner and unofficial clubs were formed from which many sports clubs came into existence. In early-1970's with the governmental procedures for registration of associations, most of those clubs were registered by the sporting youths from different areas of Male’ and Addu. It was the time when domestic football tournaments became famous within the Country. After 1978, President Maumoon’s modernizing agendas introduced Maldivians to international sporting world. The Indian Ocean Islands Games (1979) was the very first experience. National associations like Maldives Olympic Committee and The Football Association of Maldives were formed (early 1980’s) to coordinate with international and regional federations. As a developmental effort; all expenditures, assets and premises were provided and the executive committees and administrative officials were appointed by the government. After nearly 20 years of administration in this manner, the flowing technical assistance and funds from the regional federations, and the rumors of "expensive personal gifts and benifits" for the superiors of national associations related to the elections of International Federations,  made the member clubs realized the need of independent executive committee for FAM. I remember the time when I was appointed as the treasurer of FAM during 2006, the Sports Minister Hon. Hilmy was very much positive to implement the needed reform to replace the government appointees for elected members to run FAM, And we had very hard time clearing the mess until FIFA intervene to appoint an interim committee to draft the article of association and to elect an executive committee. I believe that was the most independent days of FAM and the result were positive with the rising football ranking and the winning of 2008 SAFF Championship. As the first elected football President, Mr. Ali Azim, had fine days until he became a member of the parliament.

As mentioned in above paragraph, the football development and formation of associations were administered when the political environment within the country was in different shape. It was an authoritarian political environment where open political rivalry within the associations and sporting activities were nil. 

After mid-2000 with the political parties, the hidden political rivalries were unlocked. It was a good move as a nation to implement proper democratic norms, but the sporting activities were affected by the overactive political actors who used every source of social activities as a political tool to influence people. After 2008, when the famous, the influential and the rich became part of this political change, the fragile football association was politically influenced and used. When the first elected president of FAM was elected as a member of the parliament who represented the main opposition party DRP, his vocal nature gave some troubles to the association whose 90% funding were from the government. During the time, some of the clubs were headed by parliament members who represent parties other than the political party of FAM President, which resulted some heated time between FAM and these Clubs. With the alien elements within the football family, the players and coaches were influenced as well, I remember the days of my administrative experience with Victory Sports Club; while the club president was a member of the parliament and the football officials were supporters of another political party who behaved in accord to there political belief. During the FAM presidential campaign (2012) the club executive board voted to support MP Ali Azim for FAM president while the club football officials supported another. To disapprove the decision, the football officials met the executive board and told the chairperson of VSC that they support MP Ilham Ahmed and if the board doesn’t change their decision, all football officials may resign. (The coaches & some officials resigned in October 2012 and worked to regain control of the club later by damaging the goodwill and by approaching the sponsors to cutout funds). As the result, the oldest and the most victorious club in Maldivian football felt into a pit hole of political rivalry and still struggling.

During 2013, MP Ilham Ahmed was elected as the President of FAM and the persons related to Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb conspired to sideline him, and (with the rumors of corruption and influence) FIFA formulated a normalization committee while MP Ilham Ahmed had to pay the price. During the rule of the “Normalization Committee”, FAM had 100% political influence and the backgrounds of frequently changing members (of the commitee) were related to Hon. Adheeb. when the government rated Hon Adheeb as a traitor, the FAM and the Government had problems.
  
Recently, MP Thoriq (Tom), my very good friend and a team mate and a star of 2008 SAFF championship became the president of FAM but 5 of his executive members resigned to force an early election. The fresh election is coming and again most of the contending members are MPs.

I believe that the result will be same if the action is same. But by disregarding some of my arguments above, I believe, if they consider to nominate footballing personals who has past experiences of serving for executive administrations of football clubs and association, it may build a precedent of electing football executives with football experience and developmental commitments.

For example, if they decide:

To nominate a President who:
1)   Served as a president or vice president of a football club or association for a term defined for that association or club.
2)   Served at least 4 years as a general secretary of football association.

To nominate as a Vice President who:
1)   Served at least 1 year as a president or vice president of a football association.
2)   Served at least 2 years as a general secretary of football association.
3)   Served at least 3 years as a executive committee member of a footballing club.
4)   Served at least 3 years as a general secretary of a football club.  

To nominate as an Executive Committee Member, he/she should be:
1)   Served as a president or vice president of a football club.
2)   Served as a general secretary of football association.
3)   Served as an executive committee member of a football association
4)   Served at least 1 year as an executive committee member of a football club.
5)   Served at least 1 year as a general secretary of a football club.  

Politicians can be footballers or football administrators and it would be harsh and a total loss if we totally remove them from the equation. But as long as we keep on injecting the political elements based on political decisions into footballing family, the football in Maldives will be same as our neighboring Bangladesh, Sri Lanka & Pakistan. I am positive that the future of Maldivian football will have brighter days ahead and the developmental phase of the past will return to track soon with better speed.   

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Maldives Vs Myanmar: YOU MAY CONSIDER KNOWING THE OPPONENT, BUT YOU CANNOT WIN UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND YOU STRENGTH

19 May 2014 21:00 local time

The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup  (scheduled from May 19 to 30) was commenced with a win to Palestine and the second match was between Maldives and Myanmar in a full house of red supporters. Maldivians were hoping to see their team win this match and the championship as well. The team was prepared for the tournament with the hope of winning the cup & winning a place in 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.  On the other hand Myanmar came to this tournament with high confidence they have gained from the Group A of qualification round by keeping the giant India out of the tournament. They have their new coach Radojko Avramovic, who coached Singapore for 11 years winning three ASEAN Football Championship titles, while the Maldives hired the former Myanmar coach Mamic.
The match started with great advantages for the Maldives as they are the host & 99% of the spectators were cheering them to win. It was believed that the present coach of the Maldives Mr. Mamic who was the head coach of the opponent has the knowledge of every single players’ style and strength of the opponent team. The warm-up match played just a week ago with Laos was assumed to be a good encounter to make final adjustments in tactical and technical aspects. Though the warm-up match with Laos was a 7-1 win, Maldives could not show the standard on play and style, and the  mistakes from the defense line & the instability in the midfield was to be notified.. It was believed that the alternative to tune this problem was to fielding the absent star midfielder Baka (Arif) in the opening match. But Baka was not included in the first 11 and the match started with 3 subsequent attacks with in first 5 minutes from the left side to Maldives goal where agile keeper Imran came to rescue. We were giving space to the speed players to attack us. The gaps in the midfield made the defensive players helpless on dealing with the combined efforts of Myanmar. The backbone of Maldives team was broken as the midfielders with the attacking mentality kept on running with the ball and used more solo touches then passing the ball on the ground. This caused problem for the brilliant Ali Ashfaq to get free from the tight marked Myanmar defense. Lack of prompt response to the problematic areas gave space and confidence to Myanmar and as a result the brilliant Imran saved 5 super saves within first 16 minutes of the match. Even though the team was not organized during the first half, Ashfaq and Umair showed their individual talent in occasions but 10 players of Myanmar kept on pushing the 11 players of Maldives back. where they took 2 goals advantage at the end of the first half. After the wasted 45 minutes Maldives came to field with Baka and it showed the change of style and play, like it was totally different team was  playing in the second half. Myanmar was pushed back and Ashfaq got the wings which made him assisting a goal & scoring one. The match ended with the result of 3-2 for Myanmar, but the lesson we learned from this match is “we cannot win by knowing the opponent unless we understand and use our strength”. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

AFC Challenge Cup 2014: Maldives in their best opportunity to raise high

Hosting the AFC challenge cup is a near chance of winning the qualification to Asian Cup 2015 in Australia, previously the country suffered in qualification stages with half a dozen goals from Asian footballing powers but the imaging development in football and majority support of its people, the National Football Team of Maldives is a place where the real heroes of the country appear. After participating its first official tournament in 1979 the country received third place bronze in Katmandu SAF games 1984 and 7 years later it was a silver medal as the finalist in Colombo SAF games 1991. Recently in 2008, the highest position in football was achieved by winning the SAF Championships in Sri Lanka-Maldives. Again, Maldives is hosting another tournament today, the AFC challenge cup 2014, where they have their best opportunity to win a trophy higher than the SAF Championship. In footballing history, the home advantage keep the countries raise 50% above their original status during the matches and it is a wish to see the Maldivian National Football Team take this opportunity as a gift to raise high in Continental level. 

AFC Challenge Cup 2014 an opportunity to qualify for high level continental trophy



As the biggest continent on earth and with 46 members in its football confederation, Asian nations from different regions showed very high variance in its footballing ability. Some qualification matches for the top national tournaments showed marginal difference in strength with scores of half a dozen or more goals for one side. The winning taste for the small footballing nations was never received. During the reign of former president of AFC Mohammed Bin Hammam, the continent wide “Vision Asia” program was started to raise the standard of all levels of national teams and categorized the nations  in 3 classes, where the level 1 was classed as developed associations and consists 15 strong footballing nations like Australia, Iran, South Korea, Japan etc.. the level 2 was classed as developing nations with Maldives, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Syria etc… the level 3 was classed as emerging associations like Sri Lanka, Bhutan etc…and these are the teams which was focused for AFC Challenge Cup championship. The aim of this competition is to give chance for the lowest level teams to compete in a continental tournament with the possibility to win an AFC trophy. After the first tournament hosted by Bangladesh in 2006, the 2008 was with another benefit for the winners by giving an automatic qualification to AFC Asian Cup. Though the tournament was initiated by focusing on class 3 nations, footballing nations rated as developing countries like India and Maldives got the chance of competing where India won the 2008 championship and qualified for the Asian Cup. The winner of 2014 AFC Challenge Cup in Maldives will get a qualification to the AFC Asian Cup 2015 in Australia.  This tournament is the last opportunity from this series where the host Maldives have home advantage of winning the competition. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Supporters should come back for football


We are not the country where sporting activities of 1990’s were held. The soil is same but the minds are changed. Galholhu Stadium with its cement pavilion constructed by a loan, repaid by the clubs from their portions of ticket money, seems empty most of the time. The arena where an average of 4,000 spectators for a match has reduced to few hundreds. Some might say it is the losing public interest on football, and other activities are high.  When we see the full house for Maldivian national team matches, it shows that Maldivians still have interest for football. When the supporters are less for club activities, the football clubs talked about changing its management concepts. But season by season, supporters are showing less interest on their clubs.  Club managements are publicly blaming FAM (Football Association of Maldives) for the issue and they keep on complaining. In my opinion, the clubs are responsible for the supporters; they have to keep their supporters motivated. FAM is just a regulating body where the clubs are closest to their members.
Footballing activities have been an integral part of our society from 1960’s and the formal registration of clubs has been established during early 1970’s. Evenings at Galholhu Stadium during football seasons were noisy those days. It was the supporters of the teams who represent their wards, areas, islands or atolls. Things changed mostly with money and changes in our social environment.Club managements demanding to win tournaments by spending huge sums on wages and they ignore the participation of their normal club members. To overcome the issue, these clubs should organize to have well structured managements, talented players and true supporters. Statistical evidence shows that the chanting of supporters are very powerful factor to win a match and to win championships in memorable style. Therefore, supporters are equally important as talented players. 
It is understandable that, when supporters were not informed or not invited to participate in club activities, they do not consider them as part of the club. The lack of participation are the main reason why matches are played with few spectators now days. There are lot of supporters of New Radiant and Victory throughout Maldives, but these supporters are losing their interest since they are not rated as members of the club.
If we look back to Orchid Sports Club of 1995, with organized management and talented team they could not win the championship because  Victory, New Radiant and Valencia were loud and powerful in pavilions. When the cunning owner of Bandos Island resort lost faith on Orchid Sports Club, another business man bought the club in 1997 and changed its name as New Lagoons, they had the same fate without supporters and sold the club to a group of Addu Atoll businessmen in 2000 this time the name of the club was Island Football Club (IFC). IFC tried to motivate Adduans to support but left without sufficient results comparing to its spending. Another young business family came forward to acquire the club after 2006 season and changed the name as VB Sports club.They spent huge sum of money to its players and had organized management with foreign coaches. But during their matches with star players, they have very few supporters to support them apart from hired drummer boys.  This was the time when clubs like New Radiant and Victory lost their supporters presence in matches. Though without supporters to cheer, VB sports who spent huge amount of money for its players won most of the recent championships.  We can see that VB won these championships without true supporters while supporters of other clubs’ were out of the stadium. I have no personal issue with VB but I have highlighted my point of view on there victories. If the owner of VB tried to get supporters from areas like Addu by coordinating youth programs and based the club in the City, the story could be different. A club can be defined as a formal association organized by a group of persons for a social or athletic purpose.  Not an act to dictate by very few or single person for his pride. Lack of coordination among members of other clubs like Victory, New Radiant and Valencia it is a fear that these clubs are following the autocratic behavior and it may get the result of vanishing the real aim and purpose, with the thirst of short term achievements by sacrificing long term survival. Clubs can win domestically by keeping their supporters aside and spend more on players, but the real strength will be seen in club international matches. Remember the fate of VB in past AFC tournaments, they couldn't perform well in home based matches. If we want supporters to participate and let them cheer to win our teams, we have to find ways to bring them on-board.
Since the way of sustainable financial management is crucial for the clubs and they mostly rely on handful of wealthy men, they should never forget that the powerful structure of a club will be maintained by its members.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

SAF CHAMPIONSHIP 2008 IS YOUR CHANCE


August 27, 1979 in Reunion Olympic stadium, Seychelles’ crushed Maldives by 9 goals to 0. Result was not surprising for the tiny island nation since it was there first international experience. The team with limited coaching and lack of tactical and technical knowledge showed improvement through out the tournament. Result against Comoros (2-1) was a satisfaction while scoring there first International goal.

Date

Venue

Score

27 Aug 1979

Reunion

Seychelles

9-0

Maldives

28 Aug 1979

Reunion

Reunion

9-0

Maldives

29 Aug 1979

Reunion

Comoros

2-1

Maldives

Jule’

After that, the national team had some times with out any international experience. But an academy (NSA) led by Mr. Zahir Naseer conducted a football pool which kept the Maldivian football alive through out early 80’s.As a result new stars like Kuda Moosa, Andharey, Dhonbiley and many others were found.

At the time of NSA pool, Mr. Alexandra Bibichev, well experienced coach (USSR ) did hard work on training Maldivian players. He was the man who modernized Maldivian football and showed the path to success. And he made every effort to divert Maldivian football mentality to International Level. So the national football association was formed.

After the first International experience, Maldives players took 5 years for there second competitive international and it was with Sri Lanka and the neighbor’s won by 5-0. During 1984, Maldives national team took part in 1st SAF Games (Kathmandu) and got there first International Medal in football. It was 3rd place match against Butan and the only goal of the match was scored by Ibrahim Faig.

Date

Venue

Score

1984

Colombo

Sri Lanka

5-0

Maldives

18 Sep 1984

Nepal

Nepal

4-0

Maldives

19 Sep 1984

Nepal

Bangladesh

5-0

Maldives

Jule’

21 Sep 1984

Nepal

Bhutan

0-1

Maldives

Faig

Maldives took another seven years to get a better result. In 1991 SAF games (Colombo) the national team showed that they are one of the best team in the region. The Maldives, defeated Sri Lanka (1-0) for the first time in there soil. Some of the Maldivian players like Captain Mohamed Kaleem, Moosa Manik, Andharey, Mattey and assistant coach Ibrahim Faig were over enthusiastic to take the revenge for there 5-0 loss in 1984 at same stadium.

Maldives National football team’s best ever result was the Silver Medal they got from 1991 SAF games and they had many other opportunities to get Gold but ended in same step. Hopping on same step does not count as improvement so the Maldives is very much in need for a Gold and the golden opportunity is on there hand now, championship in own soil.

All the best for the Maldivian Players and I am sure National Team will fight hard to win SAF Championship, only thing they need more is support from 300,000 people.

1985
2nd SAF GAMES 

22/12/1985 Pakistan 3 - 1 Maldives

23/12/1985 Bangladesh 8 - 0 Maldives

1987

3rd SAF GAMES
22/11/1987              Pakistan  1 - 0  Maldives
23/11/1987                 India  5 - 0  Maldives
 
 

1989

4TH SAF GAMES
-/-/1989                Pakistan  2 - 0  Maldives
-/-/1989                   Nepal  0 - 0  Maldives
 
3rd SAFF Championship
23/4/99                Sri Lanka   0- 0 Maldives      
 
1991
5th SAF GAMES
??/??/1991              Maldives  1 - 0  Nepal
??/??/1991              Maldives  1 - 0  Sri Lanka
??/??/1991              Maldives  0 – 2  Pakistan   ****
 
1993
6TH SAF GAMES
11/12/1993            Bangladesh  0 - 0  Maldives
13/12/1993                 Nepal  0 - 0  Maldives
3rd Place
??/??/1993             Srilanka 3 -   1 Maldives     
 
 
1995
7TH SAF GAMES
??/12/1995                 Nepal  1 - 0  Maldives
??/12/1995              Maldives  0 - 0  Bangladesh
 
1999
 
3rd SAFF Championship
23/4/99                Sri Lanka   0- 0 Maldives
27/4/99                Nepal       1 -0 Maldives
Semifinals
29/4/99                India       2 -1 Maldives
1/5/99                 Nepal       0- 2 Maldives  ***
8TH SAF GAMES
24/09/1999             Sri Lanka  0 - 4  Maldives
27/09/1999            Bangladesh  1 - 2  Maldives
Semifinals
02/10/1999              Maldives  1 - 2  Nepal