Malaysian football fans sticking by their team

SHAH ALAM - Several thousand Malaysian football fans turned up to watch the game against Saudi Arabia at the Shah Alam Stadium Tuesday, despite the national team being on the wrong end of a 10-0 mauling from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week.

Those who attended the game said the wounded Harimau Malaya needed moral support and did not mind paying RM30 (S$10) for a ticket to the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Group A match.

Fans were seen cheering for the players as they entered the stadium.

"Malaysian ma...Have to give moral support," said 35-year-old Shazlan Shariffuldin while clutching his Harimau Malaya shirt.

Shazlan who was at the game with two of his friends, admitted that he was frustrated by Malaysia's performance against UAE, but said that you can't give up on your team because of one game.

"They are human too. Nobody is perfect, " he told The Star Online, adding that he was hoping for a draw between the sides.

Zulkifli Taib, 60, said that fans had to support their team through thick and thin.

"The team needs support when they are at their lowest," said the retiree who came to the game alone.

He said he was shocked by the thrashing and hoped that Malaysia showed more spirit against Saudi Arabia.

Army officer Mohd Norhisham Mohd Salleh hoped to see the team bounce back against Saudi Arabia.

"I believe they can come back. It was humiliating but Ong Kim Swee is a good coach.

"Based on all the social media postings by FAM, I can see that Ong has improved the squad's morale a little," said the 33-year-old who has been supporting Malaysia for ten years.

Mohd Norhisham urged fans to stand behind the team but wants to see changes in FAM.

"FAM has to be revamped. There is too much polĂ­tics in it. Fans are sick and tired of it.

"I do not want my kids and nephews to see another thrashing!" he said.

However, notable absentees at the start of the match were the hard-core group of supporters who call themselves the Ultras Malaya.

They eventually showed up during the 40th minute of play and started chanting in the stands behind the Malaysian goal.

Malaysia's qualifying campaign has been poor as they drew 1-1 with Timor Leste 1-1 and got thrashed 6-0 by Palestine and 10-0 by UAE.

After the 10-0 anhiliation, Dollah Salleh quit as Malaysia coach and Malaysia U-23 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee took over as the interim coach.