Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Is Malaysian Soccer on the Verge of Global Recognition?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

In a remarkable turn of events, Malaysian soccer is experiencing an unprecedented rise, marking its presence on the global stage with a historic victory against India and a nearly 40-rank climb in FIFA standings over the past five years. Noteworthy triumphs by the national team, coupled with the decade-long dominance of Johor Darul Ta’zim in the Malaysian Super League, signal a transformative era for Malaysian soccer, capturing the attention of fans and soccer enjoyers around the world. 

Historically Malaysia hasn’t been the best of the Asian sports teams, however, over the past 5 years they have improved greatly. Around the world, Malaysia soccer hasn’t been a talked about subject or even noticed. According to Fotmob, in 2018, they were ranked 178th out of 207th; since 2018 they have risen nearly 40 rankings to 134th. Almost winning the Merdeka Tournament against a tough opponent in Tajikistan certified their stature as a team to look out for. Also with a win against India, and ties against Syria and China, they are improving massively with the current national team.

It’s not the only soccer-related thing that’s improving in Malaysia. These improvements from the national team contribute to more and more fans tuning in and watching their country or local team either on TV or live. In the past, soccer hasn’t been popular in Malaysia, and Southeast Asia in general, and soccer hasn’t been popular even though population-wise, four countries are in the world’s top 20 by population. According to ‘The Diplomat’, a news magazine covering the Asia-Pacific, youth teams around Southeast Asia have been built increasingly over recent years. 

Malaysia has a professional league of its own much like the premier league or Champions League. The professional league in Malaysia is called the MSL. In the league, 14 teams compete but one team stands out amongst its competitors, Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).  JDT has dominated the MSL for almost a decade with 8 consecutive league titles. The team coming off an impressive 22-1-0 season some sports analysts credit JDT’s success to their impressive list of sponsors which include Nike, UNICEF, Aston Martin Racing, subway, and Socios

The financial support from these sponsors is what sets JDT apart from the rest; they were able to build a new stadium with a state-of-the-art medical and fitness center. Along with a new stadium, JDT’s sponsors make it possible for them to afford pricey foreign players. Many argue that the MSL should implement a salary cap for teams, as player salaries are going to cause teams to lose talent to bigger and better clubs. JDT’s success over the last ten years has brought much-needed attention to the MSL and has forced the league to become better.  

According to ‘The Diplomat’, These youth teams/academies were started because of the leagues that popped up over the past two decades, with the Malaysian Super League officially starting in 2004, and the Indian Super League starting in 2013. These leagues attract many players from out of the continent to appeal to and entertain the fans. Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim made it through to the round of 16 of the AFC Champions League. This competition is where the best teams from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand face off against one another. This puts Malaysia on the map, at least for Asia.

With the most recent World Cup Qualifiers against Kyrgyzstan, there should be more eyes on Malaysia as a potential favorite to top the group. Soccer fans should tune in and be excited about the Malaysian soccer team.\



The content in this article is representative of the opinions of the individual student journalist and does not represent the views of Friends Select School, The Falcon team, the administration, or faculty. 

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About the Contributors

Bryce Dodd is a senior Friends select and a wonderful student. He is the captain of the soccer team and a blossoming photographer. His journalism beat is FSS drama, swimming, and squash.

Noah Markovich is a senior at Friends Select. Noah is a member of the soccer and baseball teams. This year Noah is covering technology at Friends Select for The Falcon.  

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