On Saturday we will know where Malaysian football is heading, either it continues its downward trend or rise from the ashes.

Many are of the opinion that the future of Malaysian football is dependent on the outcome of the FAM elections on July 31, but I beg to differ.

The lack of quality in the candidates has somewhat put in spanner in the efforts towards taking Malaysian football to a firmer footing in the next decade.

And if the current administration is retained, expect more cleansing, in terms of staffing, as well as more politicking rather then contributing effectively towards improving the standard of football.

Let’s not even talk of the 1 Malaysia concept when it comes to FAM for they do not practice it at all, the composition of candidates as well as staffing speaks volumes.

Throw out the notion that you can serve football on merit as people like Windsor John deserve to be the top dog in the FAM administration if one is to use merit and ability as a tool to evaluate the ability of an individual.

Instead we continue to put our faith in personalities that lie through their teeth, play politics and behave as if FAM belonged to their forefathers.

Let us take a look at the candidates vying for positions. My fellow bloggers had their say, and while I will not agree with some of the comments made, I always believe that it is good to have your own opinion, as so long as we remain apolitical.

Deputy President

The two tipped to assume the positions are Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and Tan Sri Anuar Musa. The other candidates in the fray are Dato Che Mat Jusoh, Dato Seri Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad and Datuk Mokhtar.

While Tengku Abdullah, the former Deputy who quit in July 2007 and current President of Malaysian Hockey Federation and Malaysian Hockey Confederation, is strongly favoured, there might be some who perceive voting him in might lead to another 20 years of rule by the Pahang royal family in Malaysian football. Voting in Tengku Abdullah will mean a continuance of the policy adopted by Sultan Ahmad Shah, and this could well prove to be correct as Tengku Abdullah has always followed precedent, rather then take measures that are not popular but effective, as the case in hockey. And does he not have his plate full with hockey and polo, not discounting his role as VP in AFC?

Tan Sri Anuar Musa has charisma, out spoken like KJ, but will have to depend on his UMNO comrades in states to ensure his election into the hot seat. But it is what he can do after July 31 that matters, not what he has done for Kelantan, though mind you it was no easy feat. Anuar could well end up to be another KJ, frustrated and dejected in his honest attempt to do something. But without clout, as he is no Minister nor some head honcho in any GLC, Anuar may have lost the battle before he can get moving.

Next we have Datuk Seri Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad, the maverick of FAM. He has lost support of the states, largely due to the fact that he is too aligned to the current administrative set-up. Redzuan means well, but over the years his inability to stand up and make changes have diminished his chances of being re-elected considerably. The Azraai Khor incident was the final straw, for if Azraai is deemed incompetent as a coach, then so is the entire Technical Committee who hired Azraai in the first place as well as the administration of FAM as it took them seven months to realise that a two time treble winning coach was incompetent.

Then we have Dato Che Mat Jusoh, a nice personality, but it takes more then being nice to get elected. Che Mat is what you can describe as an elder statesman of FAM and deserves a chance to be the number two. But not being decisive will work against him especially how his Competitions Committee bent backwards in accommodating Pahang in the Super League., though some claim it was never the intention of the President to do so. He was not firm in handling the competitions and often swayed by the administration. He should have stayed on as vice president but opted to go for broke.

Datuk Mokhtar is a rank outsider and the fact that there are just too many Selangor candidates, that have a much better chance winning those positions, could well work against him. But he may well be the dark horse that will be able to sneak in as he has excellent campaign managers and is approachable, not to mention that he comes from a state with rich footballing tradition. I will not discount the possibility of him making the cut.

Vice Presidents

There are eight candidates, vying for four posts. Of the four incumbents, two quit midway – Dato Gulzar Noor Mohamad and Hj Ahmad Mohamad, not because they were not able to contribute, but because they were just fed-up with the system. And the third incumbent Dato Che Mat Jusoh is vying for one of the Deputy President’s position.

Datuk Apandi Hamzah is the sole incumbent defending his position in the vice presidential race. He was a last minute inclusion in the race at the last elections, pulling off a giant killing act as he ousted Dato Seri Raja Ahmad Zainuddin. But he is largely seen to be inaffective, throwing his support towards the current administration and in the process leaving in lurch those very people who put their faith in him. Has technical knowledge but lacks a firm stance hence may lose out. But lack of quality opponents could well see him creep in in fourth spot.

Dato Seri Raja Ahmad is someone who could play the lead role in the FAM production of survivor series. Outspoken yet has the charisma and though he means well, his inability to let his head rule his heart is his downfall. Has the support of the President and administration but another defeat here should well spell his demise in the footballing world, but expect the President to appoint him as an independant again.

Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin is said to be a shoo in for the VP post, but with secret balloting and the candlestine manner in which a personality within FAM operates could well see Hamidin not finishing on top of the VP race. And this will somewhat affect his credibility. Hamidin means well and will make a good General Secretary, if not for some unseen hands that conspired against him three years ago.

Datuk Subahan Kamal is the state assemblyman for Templer and current Deputy President of Selangor Hockey Association, where he is doing a fantastic job. Quiet and unassuming, Subahan is an ideal candidate yet the fact that two candidates from Selangor could well work against him. Going by ability and knowledge, Subahan should be voted in but if he loses, try for VP in MHF this November as hockey could gain from football’s loss.

Dato S.Subramaniam is a straight forward personality and when heading the players status committee showed a stern hand, operating without fear or favour. Shares a cordial relationship with the President and sole candidate in the top heirachy from the other races. A likely winner if 1 Malaysia concept adopted. Has an analytical mind and always game for new ideas that will benefit sports. Has good management skills and is someone whom staff at FAM are comfortable with.

Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohd Hashim has come under the spotlight for the wrong reasons, clearly an attempt by certain quarters to derail his chances for the VP position. Despite all his statements, the reality is that Penang FA has to do more for football in the state and honestly if Dato Junid had been nominated for the Exco seat, Penang would have a better chance of having a representative as Junid, despite being out spoken virtually eats and sleeps football.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Hishan, has in the past done lots for football thus I was surprised to read a daily that said he was an unknown candidate. Hishan is one of those who worked his way up from the club structure into the FAM set-up in the past and knows the system well, and in terms of financial contribution, he has done his bit in the 90’s. But it will be an uphill battle this time around as he is not well known by the delegates but could well be the outsider who might just make the cut when votes are counted.
Datuk Lawrence Gimbang is the sole representative from East Malaysia in the race but has the distinction of being banned for a year for his role in the fracas during the FA Cup semi final match against Negri Sembilan at the Likas Stadium in 2003. But if that is hekd against him then he joins the likes of Raja Ahmad as he too faced the wrath of FAM Disciplinary Board in the past. Not much is known but if Sabah’s promotion into the Super League is to be taken into account, the fresh face could do well in the race.