The 2019 Malaysia Cup kicked off early this month with 16 teams competing in four different groups, searching for only eight places to the knockout stage of the oldest cup competition in Southeast Asia. Perak goes into the competition this year as the defending champions with many looking to knock them off their perch.
Last weekend saw the return of the English Premier League where fans turned out in droves to support their respective teams, a sight that is sorely lacking in the Malaysia Cup this season as local fans have stayed away for most parts leaving stadiums around the country looking very sparse.
For Sabah's Jelius Ating, he believes that the fans need to reassess themselves accordingly and see if their heads are in the right place when it comes to supporting football in Malaysia. While respecting their wishes and opinions, he is also hopeful that some form of shift in mentality can help turn things around.
“The excitement of our football is actually dependent of how the fans themselves view it, because the fans are the strength of the continued development of the sport. It is undeniable some of the things said but on our own we have to change our mentality to be more positive and supportive towards the Malaysian leagues.
“If we only look at the negatives, then football becomes negative. I believe that the Malaysian league will get better each year if more people have constructive perception. Some may see the league as boring while others will argue of the lack of competitiveness but I feel that all teams should work hard to ensure there’s always excitement in the league.
“If we want to see fans change their perception towards a more positive side, then the teams also need to have the same mentality to work together towards increasing their performance. We cannot be swayed by short term success because that is only a step in the right direction as newer challenges will always come into play. We cannot be too proud over one achievement because it will not be easy for us to maintain the team’s high performance," said Jelius.
The work that teams put in will have to match what the fans give, if not more. Driving fans to the stadium has to the core of what every management has to concentrate on, whether that is better fan experience, better facilities or even a more attractive playing style.
Football in Malaysia has steadily been shaped towards newer and different directions with multiple changes being pushed out across the recent seasons. There has also been an evolution in fans throughout the years as well but their support for the game remains as integral as ever.
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