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Malaysian Coach Warns of English Influence

A Malaysian coach has warned his fellow countryman about paying too much attention to European leagues, urging fans to focus locally. The Malaysian league has attracted several British coaches over the years, with the likes of Jamie Barnett making a success of themselves over there. However, whilst English influence on the domestic game is welcomed in the country, Luis Pablo Pozzuto claims fans should not pay much attention to European leagues. “We must first need to change our mentality of watching more English football and instead watch more Malaysian football,” said Pozzuto, director and head coach of Kuala Lumpur Youth Soccer. “Even in Argentina, they watch EPL, but if a second division team (from Argentina) plays at the same time, they will watch the second division match. We need to be passionate about our own clubs, but in Malaysia, the fans have passion for other clubs. You live in Kuala Lumpur, but why do you support Liverpool more? The media also needs to highlight the local football scene and encourage people to watch matches in stadiums.” Having fans in stadiums may be a novelty for all countries at the moment, but the experience is very different around the world. In England, the matchday experience involves meeting friends beforehand, maybe having a wager on the outcome of the result and a long chat about the other games that afternoon. Most providers will prioritise the matches taking place in that country, but Asia is not the same. There are complex laws around placing wagers on games in Malaysia, with Expatbets reporting a handful of Asian sites will allow such activity. Still, customers can register with some European providers too. If they do, that will put European matches at the top of their list, promoting games in England, Spain, and Italy over Malaysia. Also, with big clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United targeting the Asian markets, their domestic league gets lost somewhat, not least because of the differing quality of football. While the English game’s influence is not entirely positive, the impact some coaches have had is. For example, Dave Booth is a renowned coach who played much of his football in the lower divisions in England with Grimsby Town and Barnsley. He went to Malaysia in 1996 and hasn’t looked back. He’s since been employed in Thailand, India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Maldives and is the current manager of Laos. That type of European influence, bringing skills and knowledge to the domestic and national teams of smaller Asian countries, is precisely what those countries need to develop and maybe reach a World Cup final. With the increase in skills and attributes comes the possibility of producing top players that can be sold for a profit. Pozzuto suggests this is the best way to approach development within the game and make the product better for supporters. “Many (Malaysian teams) will say they cannot spend money on development when they are suffering even to pay the salaries of the first team players,” he told Free Malaysia Today. “Maybe you won’t get instant success, but if you manage to produce one good talent, he can be sold to a foreign team… Later pump in the money again for development; if you do not pump in the money, the system will collapse.” Only two of the Malaysian national side currently play for a European team: Dion Cools plays for Danish side Midtjylland but has always played abroad. Only Luqman Hakim Shamsudin of Belgian side K.V Kortrijk has progressed from his home country to a European team, and he is still only 19. Sadly, Vietnam has already knocked Malaysia out of qualification for the 2022 World Cup, according to Stadium Astro, throttling another chance to grow the sport’s popularity. Given that the next World Cup is in 2026, it might be a while before domestic fans stop watching the English Premier League and instead focus their attention on their domestic football.

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