Malaysian Football Club JDT Eyes Asian Success
Five-time Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) have set a new benchmark for football clubs in Malaysia. Now, they’re game for more.
The Southern Tigers is the first Malaysian football club to compete in the AFC Champions – the Asian premier club competition under the guidance of owner Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, the crown prince of Johor – and they want to make their presence felt.
In the five years since he took over in 2013, Tunku Ismail has turned JDT into a formidable side by winning numerous silverware and emerging as the top football club in Malaysia. After years of building up sufficient ranking points, JDT enters the tournament as direct qualifiers to the group stage.
JDT has won five consecutive Super League titles since 2014, the FA Cup in 2016, and the Malaysia Cup in 2018. Winning Asia’s second tier club competition – the AFC Cup in 2015 – was the biggest indicator that they had the potential to strut their stuff on a regional level.
The team has been boosted by the signing of Brazilian defender Mauricio Nascimento and Spaniard Aaron Niguez, to make a splash in the Asian competition. But while fan expectations mount for a strong showing, Tunku Ismail is realistic about his club’s debut. He does not want the team to become whipping boys.
Tunku Ismail, looking to emulate the success of Thai football clubs in the AFC Champions League, believes his club needs two more years to make an impact. “Buriram started their project six years before us. The same goes with Muangthong, Chonburi and all,” he said. “I admire the Thai league. They are doing a good job in scouting young talents and exposing them to high-level games.”
Tunku Ismail added that the AFC Champions League will be an eye-opener for young, upcoming footballers like Syamer Kutty Abba, Safawi Rasid and Haziq Nadzli.
“I want to see JDT become aggressive in the AFC Asian Champions league,” he said. “I’m glad our young players such as Safawi have the opportunity to play in Asia’s highest level They’ll learn so much from the good players in the league. It’ll benefit the club, the national team,and it’s good for Malaysian football.” – K Rajan
eSport Is Game To Make Its Presence Felt
There’s been never-ending debate on whether eSports should be considered a sport for many years. That hasn’t deterred video gaming from blossoming into a multi-billion ringgit industry. Slowly but surely, it’s getting the recognition it deserves.
eSports finally makes its debut as a medal sport at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines and 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. Don’t be surprised if it becomes an Olympic programme in the future.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is already exploring the possibility of including eSports in future Games, and the 2024 Paris Games organisers are considering making it a demonstration sport. Malaysia will have to be part of it, or risk playing catch-up.
The government has already laid out plans for eSports to take off officially. With RM10mil allocated under Budget 2019 and support from Youth And Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Malaysia is on to a great start to become an eSports hub for the region.
Malaysia is not short of eSports talents. Professional gamer Yap Jian Wei represents French-based PSG.LGD. Jian Wei made headlines in August for landing a US$4.1mil (RM16.82mil) jackpot after finishing second at the International 2018 Dota2 Championship.
Expect eSports to be the next big thing in Malaysia this year. – Tan Ming Wai
Yow Wows As A Squash Star In The Making
National squash player Ng Eain Yow has been on the rise – now watch him go in 2019! The 2016 world junior squash champ has been putting in performances that have placed him on the world radar.
The 20-year-old was an invaluable cog in the Malaysian men’s team gold medal success at the Asian Games in August 2018. He was in superb form and won all his seven matches, including the final match against Hong Kong.
With the game tied at 1-1, Ng stood little chance against the higher ranked Leo Au, until he pulled off the game’s biggest upset by crushing his opponent 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 for the win.
He went on to win the individual and team gold with Federal Territories at the Malaysian Games (Sukma) a month later. Then he took on the Professional Squash Association World Tour, securing his biggest career win at the Qatar Classic where beat home favourite Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi in round one.
Ng also pushed Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad to a five-game thriller in the second round, before losing but receiving praises from the former world champ after the match. Not to put extra pressure on his shoulders, but it’s exciting what he can achieve on the world scene this year. – Joash Ee De Silva