Monday, 21 November 2011

Malaysians prepared for tense final against Indonesia in SEA Games

The small group of Malaysian supporters at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Senayan tonight could be forgiven if they feel like helpless kids caught in a hurricane.

Some 100 of them will brave 100,000 screaming Indonesian fans to root for Malaysia in the highly-anticipated football final at the 26th SEA Games.

Despite the overwhelming odds, the yellow-shirted Harimau Malaya fans have vowed not to be intimidated by the sea of red and white when they urge the national team on to defend the title it won in Laos two years ago.

Goh Ai Ai, a Malaysian fan living in Jakarta, is one of the handful of faithfuls.

“We may seem like a drop in the ocean, but then again the ocean is made up of single drops. So, every one of us counts,” she said. “We will make our presence felt.”

Lee Hui Seng, a member of the Famemas supporting team, concurred:“We will be there for our boys. We are not afraid to be right smack in the middle of a hostile crowd.”

Telekom's Team Malaysia will also be part of the cheering squad and one of its members, Farhan Mohd Aimullah, said: “Of course, safety is important. I'm quite scared but I think it is my duty to be there.”

Yesterday, chef-de-mission Datuk Naim Mohd held a briefing for the Malaysian supporters.

“It is to brief them on specific security matters,” he said. Besides Famemas and Telekom's Malaysian students in Indonesia will also be at the match.

“We have been given 100 seats,” said Naim. “The hosts have given us assurances on our security. There will be police personnel around the area,” he added.

“The athletes and officials involved in the Games will not attend the final,” said Naim. “But I am getting the others to turn up to support our team. We may be a small group but we will make the most noise to urge them on to victory.”

Such is the tension here that the Malaysian team will be ferried to the stadium in armoured vehicles the Barracudas.

Team manager Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said the Barracudas were “most inconvenient”. He has asked the organisers to find a better way to transport the team.

“This is the third time that a Malaysian team will be travelling either to or from the stadium in an armoured vehicle. It isn't good for the sport,” said Hamidin.

At the Suzuki Cup AFF Championships 11 months ago, the national team rode to the stadium in the Barracudas due to security concerns.

On Thursday, after beating Indonesia 1-0 in the last Group A match, the national Under-23 team were forced to take the Barracudas back to the hotel to escape a hostile crowd. 

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