Johor Crown Prince praises Lions, blasts Malaysian football

Johor Crown Prince praises Lions, blasts Malaysian football
Singapore footballing legend and Johor Darul Takzim coach Fandi Ahmad (right) with Prince of Johor.

The Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Idris, has slammed the state of football in Malaysia, after the LionsXII's 3-1 win over Kelantan in the Malaysian FA Cup final on Saturday.

"It's blatantly obvious from the match that the standard of football in Malaysian football is still lacking," he said, likening the upset to "Scotland Under-23 team defeating Manchester United".

Tunku Ismail's comments, which opened with a congratulatory message to the LionsXII, were posted on the Johor Southern Tigers' official Facebook page soon after Fandi Ahmad's team lifted the trophy at the Bukit Jalil Stadium. Tunku Ismail, who is also president of the Johor Football Association, suggested that the LionsXII's historic win - the first time the Malaysian FA Cup is won by a foreign side - points to deeper problems within the country's football system.

He pointed out that the LionsXII are a developmental side without foreigners, while Kelantan, who had won the FA Cup in 2012 and 2013, are often seen as the best team in Malaysia.

"The match shows that LionsXII not only played against the best Malaysian football team with the support of four foreign players, but also against the referee and the system, which is the FAM," he said in the post, titled: "Big slap on FAM's face", which garnered over 20,000 likes and 1,300 shares by last night.

Not one to mince his words, Tunku Ismail has had several run-ins with the FAM and had also challenged for its presidency last year.

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He was appointed adviser to the FAM after losing out in the presidential elections to Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang.

However, he stepped down as adviser in February, saying that he did not "want to be part of an unfair organisation" run by "those who are in it for personal gains and political reasons".

Most recently, he threw his weight behind protests against exhibition matches between a Malaysia 11 and English Premiership sides Tottenham Hotspur (May 27) and Liverpool (July 24), labelling the games as a "circus".

These games come in the midst of Malaysia's preparations for the South-east Asia Games and World Cup qualifiers.

shamiro@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 25, 2015.
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