Malaysia’s soccer heydays

Now that South Korea have done a mighty leapfrog and much more past us, I could only reminisce that it seemed only yesterday that we were at least equal to them. Heck, Park Ji-Sung’s achievement is mere wet dream for our national players. It’s like Khalid Jamlus on the left flank of the 1st XI of Barcelona! Get real indeed…..

Some postings by veteran football fans follow.

60s and 70s & early 80s

Pestabola Merdeka

Best memories

1980 olympics qualification: beat korea 2-1, that goal by James Wong, after pass by Hassan Sani.

Profiles of 2 Malaysian soccer legends who’ve left us:


Represented Malaysia :

1972 Olympics Finals in Munich
1972 – 1987 Pestabola Merdeka
Champions 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979
SEA Games 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985
1974 Asia Games in Tehran
1977 Pre-World Cup Championship
1986 Asia Club Championship in Kuala Lumpur
Saigon Indonesia Cup Championship
Vietnam Cup
Merlion Cup in Singapore
Asia Cup
Jakarta Raya Cup
Park Cup

Malaysia’s Unsung Hero: reputed to be the best goalkeeper not only in the country but also in Asia, R. Arumugam is well-known for his astonishing feats on the football field. His exceptionally long arms and brilliant saves earned him the nickname “Spiderman”. It was a measure of his stature and style that even in the company of the best Malaysian players of his time, Arumugam was not overshadowed. Selangor’s star goalkeeper left us on a bitter cold morning of December 18, 1988 in a motor accident which occurred on the Federal Highway at around 5.25a.m. He is survived by a wife and two daughters. R.Arumugam was born on January 31, 1953 in Port Klang. He started his football career at a very young age. His first milestone was the Burnley Cup Youth Tournament in 1971. He represented Selangor in the Malaysia Cup Tournament from 1972 to 1988, a period during which Selangor won the Malaysia Cup eight times. Arumugam’s first international stint was in 1973, representing Malaysia in the World Cup qualifying round matches in Seoul. Since then, he played in numerous matches around the world, bringing glory to Malaysia each time. At the time of his departure, he had 194 international caps to his name, 6 caps shy of his personal goal of 200 caps. R.Arumugam did more than play the game. In 1983, he formed his own club, Starbrite SC, as part of his personal contribution to the youngsters in his housing area. In recognition of his services to both state and nation, the Football Association of Selangor and Public Bank where Arumugam was employed started a trust fund in the name of R. Arumugam on January 5, 1989. R. Arumugam AMN; PJK may not be with us in person today but his name lives on as one of the greatest goalkeepers in Malaysian football history.

MOKHTAR DAHARI (Nov 13, 1953 – July 11, 1991)

Represented Malaysia :

Merdeka Tournament: 1972-1984
Asian Games: 1974 (Teheran), 1978 (Bangkok)
Sea Games: 1975 (Bangkok), 1977 (Kuala Lumpur), 1979 (Jakarta)
Final appearence for Malaysia: Pre-olympics in Seoul in 1985

His prowess on the football field has earned him the nickname “Supermokh”. As a striker, he is well-known for landing powerful goals. His outstanding ability coupled with strict discipline got him elected as captain of the Malaysian national team. His decision to retire in November 1978 and in October 1982 was a blow to all in the football arena.

Never has there been a national football player that has received more attention than Mohd. Mokhtar Dahari. Born on November 13, 1953 in Kampung Pandan , Kuala Lumpur, Mokhtar Dahari cultivated his interest in football at a very young age, representing his school and clubs in various football matches.

It was while attached to the Darul Afiah Club that Mohktar began his football career at Selangor state level. He played in the Merdeka Tournament from 1972 to 1981. Mohktar joined the Selangor team in 1972 and led the team to victory in the Malaysia Cup matches ten times out of twelve, creating a new record for Selangor. Mokhtar’s record of representing Malaysia at international matches are countless, so are the goals scored by him. Among the international matches he has played in are the SEA Games, Asian Games, Pre-Olympics and the Asia Cup. He has also played against football greats such as Diego Maradona, Franz Beckenbauer and Kevin Keegan. Although he retired from the national squad in 1982, Mokhtar was requested to play in the 1984 Merdeka Tournament and represented the nation for the last time in 1985 for the pre-World Cup match against South Korea in Seoul.

The news that he had muscular dystrophy came as a shock to all who loved and admired him. Mokhtar Dahari left us on July 11, 1991. Although sadly missed, he is fondly remembered by one and all as the legend who brought glory to Malaysia. We salute you, Mokhtar !

So there you have it, two short biographies of Malaysia’s best ever soccer players. In fact, soccer is the most popular sports in the country. Granted, other sports like baseball and hockey, basketball and golf have their niche too, but they do not generate as much buzz as soccer could, or are as easily accessible. For example, golf equipment and baseball bats are either more expensive or not easily found, whereas a soccer ball can be found absolutely everywhere.

2 thoughts on “Malaysia’s soccer heydays

  1. mohammadali

    Dear sir,
    My name is Mohammadali Shafiei and I am an Iranian student in Malaysia.
    I am currently a student here and as I was a football player in Iran and even I have the experience to play in Iranian champion league. I also became the champion in the students champion league and I was invited for the Iranian national student team. I am 23 and as far as I am a football lover I am ready to play for a football or futsal team here in Malaysia.
    I will appreciate if you do me a favor and introduce me to a team.
    I look forward to hear from you sooner.
    Thanks for your in advance.

    Tell: 0192850410

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