ROOTING FOR MALAYSIA: Khairy, Jason and the writer proudly don the national colours
SITTING among the fans certainly felt different. I watched our Malaysia Selection play Manchester United from the stands of the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. And I was not alone.
A couple of rows away was Johor FC coach Ramlan Rashid. And there was also Perak player S. Subramaniam. What came as a pleasant surprise was FA of Malaysia (FAM) deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin, his wife Nori Abdullah and singer-cum-songwriter Jason Lo — all in national colours — sitting at the upper terraces of the RM58 ticket area.
Political ploy or simply a die-hard fan, Khairy’s presence among the masses was indeed rare when most officials — no matter how small — are always eager for VVIP reception.
There were several hilarious episodes prior to kickoff. There was a young man running from one end to the other wearing a Chelsea jersey, much to the dismay of the MU fans who started jeering him only to laugh and applaud when he took off the Chelsea shirt, unveiling a Malaysian jersey underneath. Also heckled was a foreigner wearing an Arsenal jersey.
A child, about 3 or 4 years old, was shouting “Rooney” only for his father to correct him by saying; “No more Rooney lah, say Owen.”
When Malaysia equalised at 2-2, the child started shouting, “Malaysia, Malaysia.”
Khairy would agree that though the National Stadium was drowned in a sea of red, the fans were still Malaysians in heart and soul.
That was evident when Amri Yahyah scored the first goal which got fans — Malaysia and Manchester United — off their feet. The second goal by Amri amazed many as Red Devils' fans around me starting cheering for the national team instead.
It was disappointing to note several college students on my side who were able to name every MU player while they were passing the ball but kept quiet whenever the Malaysian players had possession.
When asked what they thought of the national team after the match, they admitted, “Not bad lah.”
Some thought the Malaysians would lose by at least four goals. How wrong they were!
Win or lose, hopefully more Malaysian fans will stand out tonight.
Just like the patriotic song Perajurit Tanah Air, or better known as Inilah Barisan Kita, we shall sing “semboyan telah berbunyi, menuju medan bakti!”