Thursday, February 23, 2006

Malaysia brings back the Merdeka Tournament

Malaysia's Merdeka invitational tournament will make a return after a lapse of five years. The Football Association of Malaysia plans to stage its 38th edition after the FIFA World Cup finals in Germany (9 June - 9 July). First held in 1957, it was last conducted at the Shah Alam Stadium in 2001 where Uzbekistan emerged as the champions from Bahrain, Slovakia, India, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Thai Under-23 and the Malaysian senior and Under-23 teams.

FAM Competitions committee chairman, Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar, said that the tournament would involve mainly national teams, especially from the ASEAN region. “We don't get to see our ASEAN counterparts in action regularly,” Raja Ahmad told Eric Samuel of The Star (Kuala Lumpur). “We have sent out feelers and Myanmar are the first to show interest to participate in the tournament. We hope to get many teams to play in the tournament, including the giants of Asia, to bring back its popularity and glamour.”

Raja Ahmad said that the FAM hoped to rekindle the magic of the Merdeka tournament, which was once the premier invitational football tournament in Asia. “We are trying our best to rebuild the national team. But it won't be easy to bring back the glory days,” he said.

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