Malaysia coach calls for fans’ support towards local teams

KUALA LUMPUR (BERNAMA) – Malaysian football fans should reduce glorifying foreign football teams, but instead enhance their support for local football squads to help the country’s football, said Kuala Lumpur Youth Soccer Director and head coach Luis Pablo Pozzuto.

He said that supporting foreign leagues result in neglection of the local leagues, especially at the grassroots level.

The 53-year-old Argentine, who has been residing in Malaysia for over 18 years since his last playing career with Penang, said fans must pledge their support to the teams and players by watching their games, including in the lower tiers.

“It takes time to develop, but we first need to change our mentality of watching more English football and instead watch more Malaysian football. Even in Argentina they watch the English Premier League (EPL), but if a second division team (from Argentina) play at the same time, they will watch the second division match.

“We need to be passionate about our own clubs, but in Malaysia the fans have passion for other clubs. You live in Kuala Lumpur but why you support Liverpool more? The media also needs to highlight the local football scene and encourage people to watch matches in stadiums,” he told Bernama recently.

Pozzuto is among the few professional footballers who was coached by Diego Maradona during his playing days with Argentine Primera Division outfit Deportivo Mandiyu in 1994.

He played for Kelantan during the 1997 and 1998 seasons and Penang from 2001-2003 where he helped The Panthers clinch the first division (Premier 1) title in 2001.

The former midfielder and forward said teams playing in the top tiers should have youth development initiatives by establishing youth teams.

“On average, boys in Malaysia start serious football training at the age of 15. I played in first division when I was 16. Today, in football you need to start training by three or four years.”