Unprecedented Disaster as Malaysia Squeak Late Winner

The country of course is still reeling from the shock defeat to Malaysia that meant the exit of the football team (male) from the SEA Games – when Thailand had expected to continue its run of victories in the tournament.

The Thais needed just a draw against a Malaysian team that had already been well-beaten by Vietnam and did not look all that much cop. Thailand duly went one up early in the second half but then conceded two goals in the last nine minutes to see it all come crashing down in flames – the late goals suggested a lack of fitness in the squad (Thai athletes have, in some cases, had a tendency to enjoy themselves when away from the training pitch) and the manager, Steve Darby, is also being criticized (individuals are always criticized, not systems). He has, to his credit, taken full responsibility for the defeat.

Others have determined that the real reason for defeat is the switch of colours away from the traditional red to yellow. In recent political events, red has become associated with the pro-democracy movement and yellow associated with the violent, extreme right-wing PAD mob, which advocates removing the vote from poor people and starting a war with Cambodia.

SEA Games 2009 Underway

While in Malaysia this week, one of the big stories in the press there was the behaviour of their football team, who appear to have taken physical action against the referee for what they seem to think was a string of dodgy decisions in the Vietnam match (controversy and Vietnam? Heaven forefend). The authorities were taking the line that the players were out of order but the referee was no good either. Well, today, they meet the Thai team needing a win to go through to the semi-finals. One would expect the Thai team to have enough nous to get the draw they require but this is the SEA Games and, even though the quality may not always be the highest, it is always entertainingly unpredictable. For example, it is only today that an argument with the international authorities has been resolved so that the boxing tournament can go ahead – we can look forward to more interesting decisions by the judges in all the martial arts types sports, since the results of these are usually determined by the judges. Meanwhile, medals have started to be awarded in the shooting, taekwondo, swimming and other events. As far as I can tell, the media in the region is mixing a sense of nationalism with the undermining thought that it really does not matter that much – back pages are still usually dominated by international sport, after all. The official website for the Games is at http://laosoc.laoseagames2009.com. Technical capacity in Laos is pretty limited but whoever is responsible for updating the site is doing quite a good job.