FAM to invite Singapore back into Malaysia Cup

The Football Association of Malaysia is proposing to invite the national team of the Republic of Singapore to return to the 85-year-old Malaysia Cup from next season. FAM vice president Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar said the proposal would be discussed in the FAM Council to seek the views of all the Malaysian states. However, he told the Bernama newsagency the move is aimed at increasing interest in the tournament as well as improving the performance of Malaysian players by exposing them to a national-level team.

Singapore won the Cup 24 times, trailing only this year's winner, Selangor, which has been champion 31 times. The country withdrew in 1994 when the Football Association of Singapore launched its S-League.

FAM's intiative may shock Singapore skipper Aide Iskandar who last week announced he was leaving Singapore's 2004 S-League champion, Home United FC, to join Johor in Malaysia second division (Premier League) coached by Sazali Saidon. Aide told Kuala Lumpur's Star newspaper that a major motivation to join a Malaysia club, the first Sinagporean to do so since Hasnim Haron played for Johor in 1994, was the crowd and passion that he saw in the 1994 Malaysia Cup final at Shah Alam which “keeps burning” in him.

"The euphoria of winning a unique double – the Malaysia Cup and the League Cup in 1994 – was cut short for young Singapore defender Aide Iskandar," the newspaper commented. "That was the year when the Lions announced their pull-out from the M-League soon after achieving the double and in the process severed their longstanding football links with their neighbours. Young Aide, then 19, saw only five minutes of Malaysia Cup final action as a substitute but it was inspirational. The Lions romped to a 4-0 win over Pahang to lift the prestigious Malaysia Cup at the Shah Alam Stadium and the win left a lasting impression for Aide"

Auide said he loved challenges. "It was a challenge for me to win the Tiger Cup for Singapore and we did it. Johor too have their ambition ... they want to gain promotion to the Super League and play in the Malaysia Cup,” he said, adding that the 11-year wait to play in the M-League has finally come true.

See also: Malaysian League may be broadened after bans (16 Oct)