Sports Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (standing front row fourth from right) meets the various football teams at Wisma FAM in Petaling Jaya yesterday. Pic by HASAN ISMAIL.
SPORTS Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has given the national Under-23 football team another reason to end Malaysia's Sea Games gold drought - how they fare will determine the game's standing in the ranking system to be implemented in January.
Azalina said the performance of all the teams - men, women and futsal - will be evaluated.
"There is no reason for the teams to not perform as everything has been done to prepare them," said Azalina, who visited the teams at Wisma FAM in Petaling Jaya yesterday.
Malaysia last won gold in the 1989 Sea Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The last two editions saw Malaysia finish as bronze medallists.
"On the Government's part alone, FAM received RM12.3 million from the National Sports Council for development. This has to be justified and football has to perform in Korat," she added.
Azalina said that with FAM now with a new set of young leaders to help president Sultan Ahmad Shah, the association should be able to progress.
"Football is the number one sport in the country and it now has a young and vibrant leader in Khairy Jamaluddin as a deputy president. FAM should be able to do better from now on."
The minister again warned the players, and other athletes, to be disciplined in Korat.
"If you break the rules in Korat, I will personally take action against you," Azalina warned.
"We are very serious about athletes performing. We are pumping money into football and I don't want any sort of misbehaviour. Otherwise be prepared to face the consequences."
Malaysia open their Group B campaign against Vietnam on Dec 1. Singapore and Laos are the other teams in the group.