Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal
SHAH ALAM, Sept 24 -- The national Under-15 (U-15) squad’s performance at the recent 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 qualifier does not indicate that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has failed to manage its talent development programme.
Under the football governing body's F:30 Road Map plan, it has set a target for the 2021 U-17 World Cup, but the mission was not accomplished when Malaysia failed to advance into the finals of the 2020 AFC Under-16 Championship, which is the final task for the World Cup.
Sadly, the mission failed when P. Maniam's squad suffered a 1-0 defeat by Laos in their second Group J match, leaving Malaysia in third place of the group standings with four points.
The national team had beaten Cambodia 7-0 in the opening match before displaying a high-quality game with a 2-2 draw against defending champions Japan in the final group match.
In that regard, FAM deputy president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal said the failure to qualify for the final round was part of the challenges in a grassroots development process.
"The notion that F:30 failed is absurd. It was an amazing achievement for them (U-15 squad) because of the 19 matches since the team was established, they were beaten once. Even at the time when they were defeated (by Laos), many of them were down with fever...that's why they couldn't perform.
"For FAM, we have not failed. We have witnessed this young team can compete with the Japanese team that we know has a very good and comprehensive development programme. So, what we have done in the short term has proven that we can compete with world’s strongest team," said Subahan, who is also the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) Technical Committee chairman.
He was speaking to reporters after the FAM delegation made a courtesy visit to Persatuan Bolasepak Melayu Malaysia (PBMM) at the Merah Kuning Football Academy here today.
At the same time, Subahan noted that FAM fully supported Maniam's position as the coach for the U-15 national squad, despite the team's failure.
"The coach has done a very good job and for me, he (Maniam) and the management team have done their duties very well. It's not just about winning but it’s about developing a strong youth team.
"F:30 is on the right track and the youth development where we work with NFDP is fantastic," he added.