Malaysia national football team

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Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Harimau Malaysia
Association Football Association of Malaysia (FAM)
Sub-confederation AFF (Southeast Asia)
Confederation AFC (Asia)
Head coach Ong Kim Swee
Captain Mohd Safiq Rahim
Most caps Soh Chin Aun (152)[1]
Top scorer Dollah Salleh (49)
Home stadium Bukit Jalil National Stadium
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 171 Decrease (January 2016)
Highest 75 (August 1993)
Lowest 171 (October–November 2015, January 2016)
First international
 Malaya 2–3 South Korea 
(13 April 1953)[2][3]
Asian Cup
Appearances 3 (First in 1976)
Best result 5th; 1976
Appearances 10 (First in 1996)
Best result Champions; 2010

The Malaysia national football team (Malay: Pasukan bola sepak kebangsaan Malaysia) is the national team of Malaysia and is controlled by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). The national team was founded in 1963 Merdeka Tournament one month before the establishment of the Malaysian Federation.[1] Malaysia national football team is recognised by FIFA as the successor of the defunct Malaya national football team. The Malaysian team nicknamed Harimau Malaysia[4] (formerly nicknamed Harimau Malaya,in reference of the Malayan Tiger)

The most significant successes of the team has come in the regional AFF Suzuki Cup (formerly known as the 'Tiger Cup'), which Malaysia won in 2010 for the first time in history. They beat Indonesia 4–2 on aggregate in the final to capture the country's first major international football title.

Malaysia had many top players, such as the legendary Mokhtar Dahari and Sabah's Hassan Sani and James Wong, which led Malaysia into their golden age during the 1970s until the 1980s. Before Mokhtar, The Malaysian King of Football, Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat was the most famous and respected footballer in the whole Malaya during the 1950s until the 1960s. Malaysia's 15–1 victory over the Philippines in 1962 is currently the record for the highest win for the national team. In the current generation, Mohd Safee Mohd Sali and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha are considered by Malaysians as their best striker pair.

In the FIFA World Rankings, Malaysia's highest standing was in the first release of the figures, in August 1993, at 75th. Malaysia's main rival on the international stage are their geographical neighbours, Indonesia and Singapore, and past matches between these two teams have produced much drama. Malaysia is one of the most successful teams in Southeast Asia along with Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, winning the ASEAN Football Championship 2010 and other small competitions while improving at the same time.


The national team former nickname is derived from the Malayan tiger, thus there is some debate as most Malaysian in the East felt the "Malaya" term does not cover the whole country.[5] Another source stated the name was believed to have been derived from a Malayan football player from Stulang Laut, Johor named Abdullah Mohd Don (Dollah Don)[6] after he been called as "Harimau Malaya" by the founding father of Indonesia, Sukarno when managed to chasing his team lost of 0–3 against an Indonesian football club by scoring hat-trick in a match between Singaporean Malay Club and Peseja (Persija Jakarta) in 1953.[7] On 2 February 2016, the nickname was officially changed to Harimau Malaysia.[8]

Naming debate and official change[edit]

Most supporters in the East felt offended when the media in the West Malaysia keep continuously using the term even some in the West said it is just a small matter and the naming issue had been politicised, but for the people in the East it contradicts the aspirations and the spirit of 1Malaysia.[9][10] Most also has upset and disappointed as if the national team lose, the team will started to be called as Malaysian tiger, but if the national team won they will be only called as Malayan tiger.[11] Thus from 2 February 2016 onward, the nickname Harimau Malaya was officially changed to Harimau Malaysia in a bid to be more inclusive especially to the East Malaysian sides. The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tengku Abdullah said in a statement that:[8]


Early foundation[edit]

Tunku Abdul Rahman with the Malaya football team on 1958 after won the Merdeka Cup.

Before the establishment of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, North Borneo (now Sabah), Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore are represented by their own national teams, a situation which pre-dated the establishment of a Malaysia. Malaya and Singapore usually competed in an international competition such as the Merdeka Tournament while North Borneo and Sarawak competed in Borneo Cup. Malaya's biggest achievement in football was becoming the bronze medalist of the 1962 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia after defeating South Vietnam 4–1.

The winner of the first season of Borneo Cup in 1962, North Borneo football team, one year before the merger to form Malaysia.

The first match of Malaysia national football team took place in Merdeka Stadium on 8 August 1963 with the combined strength of Singapore and Malaya.[1] Malaysia lose the match 3–4 to Japan.[14] The team continue using the combination of players from Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia until Singapore's separation from Malaysia in 1965. Since then the squad only represented by Peninsular Malaysian due to difficulties of that time to go to East Malaysia and the players are outside the mainstream of Malaysian football. It is only until 1977 FAM send a talent scout to the East.[15][16] In 1971, James Wong of Sabah is the first player from East Malaysia to represent the country.[17] The list continued by the late James Yaakub of Sarawak in 1977.

Malaysia qualified for the 1972 Olympics in Munich, beating Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Philippines along the way. Although they managed to defeat the United States 3–0, they lost the other 2 matches by losing 3–0 to West Germany and 6–0 to Morocco. Two years later, Malaysia won their second bronze medal at the 1974 Asian Games after defeating North Korea 2–1. The team went on to qualify twice in a row for the AFC Asian Cup, in 1976 and 1980. Malaysia qualified again for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, but joined the boycott of the games. The team also won the Merdeka Tournament three times, became runner-up four times and achieved third place twice during the 1970s.

1972–1985 and records[edit]

From 1972, Mokhtar Dahari is considered as the legend footballer for the Malaysian team as he booked his place as one of the best players in Asia.[citation needed] Football Association of Malaysia said that Mokhtar Dahari is the top scorer in Asia by scoring 175 goals.[citation needed] However, the FIFA, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and IFFHS denied the result as there is no evidence for the claim, and said the player only scored 5 goals in 20 matches.[citation needed] The FIFA also said "the highest record for the Malaysian team is only managed to scored [sic] approximately 110 goals in international matches from 1972 until 1985, but it is still not possible for the player to score 175 goals".[citation needed] Therefore, Mokhtar Dahari is not recognised by FIFA to be the top scorer in Asian football.[citation needed]


In 1994, Malaysian football was embroiled in one of the largest bribery scandals in the country. With the dearth of mainstream interest and lack of funds, Malaysian football has failed to repeat the achievements of the 1970s and 1980s, despite the recruitment of Claude LeRoy. Harris came with strong credentials, having assisted Terry Venables at FC Barcelona and Allan Harris as coaches.

In the second half of 2004, FAM selected Bertalan Bicskei, former Hungarian goalkeeper and national coach, to succeed Allan Harris. Bicskei led the national side to third place at the regional Tiger Cup tournament, but was demoted to youth development duties by FAM for his actions during a friendly against Singapore in Penang on 8 June 2005. Bicskei, disgusted by the standard of officiating, threw a bottle onto the pitch before confronting a Singapore player. In September 2005, his contract was terminated after a mutual agreement.[18] Norizan Bakar became the next head coach of the Malaysian team. He guided the Malaysian squad to the ASEAN Cup semifinals in 2007, where Malaysia lost through penalties to Singapore. Norizan's position as the head coach was criticised by the Malaysian football community, fans and officials alike, after the team's performances during the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, where Malaysia lost to China 1–5, Uzbekistan 0–5 and Iran 0–2.

After the removal of Norizan Bakar, B. Sathianathan took over as head coach. Although he guided the squad to win the 2007 Merdeka Tournament, Malaysia once again failed to qualify for the World Cup after losing 4–1 and drawing 0–0 with Bahrain in the qualifying round. In March 2008, Sathianathan once again reach the final of the Merdeka Tournament. However, Malaysia lost on penalties to Vietnam. Sathianathan also led Malaysia to the semi finals of the 2008 Myanmar Grand Royal Challenge Cup. However, Malaysia then shockingly lost 4–1 to eventual winners, Myanmar.[19] During the 2008 AFF Championship, Malaysia started their campaign with a 3–0 win over Laos, but were defeated in the second match by Vietnam with a score of 2–3 and were finally eliminated when they lost 3–0 to Thailand in the final match of the group stage. This was the first time that the Malaysian squad had not passed through the group stages in 12 years.

In the 2011 Asian Cup qualifiers, the Malaysian team lost 0–5 to the United Arab Emirates. This defeat was the final straw in the eyes of Malaysian supporters, and in February 2009, the contracts of Sathianathan and manager Soh Chin Aun were terminated.[20] Former U-20 Malaysia and Selangor FA coach, Datuk K. Rajagopal was selected as the new head coach for Malaysia. He took over in July 2009.

2010 AFF Championship triumph[edit]

2010 AFF Championship winners (blue), second leg of final starting line-up.

In April 2009, Datuk K. Rajagopal was named the new coach of Malaysia replacing B. Sathianathan as head coach of Malaysia. K. Rajagopal was also the coach of the Malaysia Under-23 squad.[21] K. Rajagopal's first match was against Zimbabwe, which Malaysia won 4–0.[22] Rajagopal also coached Malaysia in two games against visiting English champions, Manchester United, losing both matches 2–3 and 0–2. During his time as the coach of the Under-23 team, K. Rajagopal led Malaysia to their fifth SEA Games gold medal and also led Malaysia to qualify for the second round of the 2010 Asian Games as one of the best four third-placed teams after a lapse of 32 years.[23][24]

During the 2010 AFF Championship, Malaysia had 14 players that were under the age of 23 while the other players were over 23. Malaysia were in group A with host Indonesia, Thailand and qualifiers winner, Laos. Malaysia began their campaign with an embarrassing 5–1 loss to Indonesia. Malaysia bounced back from their defeat and later drew with Thailand and beat Laos 5–1. As runner up of group, Malaysia qualified for the semi finals to meet Group B winners and defending champions Vietnam.[25] In the first leg of the semifinal, Malaysia won 2–0 on home soil and later drew 0–0 in the second leg, advancing to the final with an aggregate of 2–0.[26] In the finals, Malaysia met favourites Indonesia, who were unbeaten in all their matches.

On the first leg of the finals, Malaysia won 3–0 at home. Malaysia scored twice through Safee Sali and once through Mohd Ashaari Shamsuddin on a night when Bukit Jalil National Stadium was filled over capacity for the first time since it was built. The match attracted so many people that after tickets were sold out, policemen manning the gates were seen allowing friends and relatives into the stadium, causing people having to trespass onto the cable bridge above the electronic display besides standing on the aisles and corridors to view the game. On the second leg of the finals that was held in Jakarta, Malaysia lost 2–1 to Indonesia but the final aggregate was 4–2 to Malaysia, thus Malaysia were awarded the title. It was the first time in history that Malaysia were crowned the champions of ASEAN (AFF Championship Champions) and a trophy in the international stage.[27]



From the 1970s to 2007, the national team kit was manufactured by Adidas, who also sponsored the national team kit. Since 2007, the official Malaysia team kit has been manufactured by Nike. The home kit's design of black and yellow stripes is a throwback to the kit used by Malaysian national team of the 1920s. The great national team of the 1970s also sported similar stripes, which are supposed to be reminiscent of the stripes of a tiger, the symbol of Malaysia's national football team.

In November 2010, Nike Malaysia created a new football kit for the Malaysians specially made for the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. The home kit's design of black and yellow stripes is shaped by a black row of lines. The away kit features a plain blue front and red and white at the edge of the sleeves. Nike used the Malaysian flag as their logo instead of putting the Football Association of Malaysia logo, as was the case for the great national team of the 1970s.[28] On the underside of the flag, the quote "Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku" (The land that I spill my blood for) can be found. The quote is part of the Malaysia National Anthem, alluding that they are doing their best for the country.

Adidas (1970–2007)
1995–1997 Home
1995–1997 Away
2000 Home
2001 Home
2002 Home
2001–2002 Away
2004–2005 Home
2004–2005 Away
Nike (2007–2016)
2008–2009 Home
2008–2009 Away
2010–2011 Home
2010–2011 Away
2012–2014 Home
2012–2014 Away
2014–2016 Home
2014–2016 Away


Further information: Wisma FAM

Wisma FAM is a training facility and the main headquarters for the Football Association of Malaysia which located at Kelana Jaya, Malaysia. The facility is founded by the association with a purpose to serve as a headquarters and also as a training ground for the national team. Others than that, it serves as a meeting point, a room for press statement and small apartment rooms available for the national players. Sometimes, ticket matches also sold on this training facility.

Media coverage[edit]

Malaysia home matches and some away matches (depending on the location and the broadcast station) are shown live or delayed on Astro Arena and RTM. All matches are broadcast with full Malaysian commentary with Datuk Haji Hasbullah Awang.[29]


According to the Football Association of Malaysia, Malaysia have around 10 sponsors. Primary sponsors include Nike, Astro and 100plus. Local sponsor includes Telekom Malaysia, AirAsia, Malaysia Sports Council, RTM, Malaysia Airlines, Sime Darby, Resorts World Genting and SHARP.[30]

Home stadium[edit]

Malaysia's home stadium is the Bukit Jalil National Stadium. The stadium capacity is 100,411 (seated)[31] which makes it the third largest football stadium in the world. Malaysia's previous national stadium was the Merdeka Stadium before the Bukit Jalil sports complex was constructed.

Malaysia also uses other stadiums for their matches such as the KLFA Stadium, the MBPJ Stadium and the Shah Alam Stadium.


"Ultras Malaya" is the name of the official supporters of the national team. It is the largest supporter club in Malaysia comprises all the football supporter groups in the country which known for their high fanaticism and support towards the national team. Even in every international match the national team played, they will be found in a group standing at the supporters area. The main colours for these supporter are usually in black with a yellow scarf and banners just like the national team kits colours. These supporters always bring flares, drums and large national flags to the stadiums.[32]

Competitive record[edit]

FIFA World Cup[edit]

FIFA World Cup record FIFA World Cup
Qualification record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Pld W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 to Mexico 1970 Did not enter
West Germany 1974 Did not qualify 4 1 1 2 2 4
Argentina 1978 4 1 2 1 7 6
Spain 1982 3 0 1 2 3 8
Mexico 1986 4 3 0 1 8 2
Italy 1990 6 3 1 2 8 8
United States 1994 6 2 2 2 16 7
France 1998 6 3 2 1 5 3
South Korea Japan 2002 6 2 1 3 8 11
Germany 2006 6 0 0 6 2 18
South Africa 2010 2 0 1 1 1 4
Brazil 2014 4 1 1 2 8 10
Russia 2018
Qatar 2022 [to be determined]
Total 0/20 51 16 12 23 68 81

Olympic Games[edit]

AFC Asian Cup[edit]

AFC Asian Cup record
Year Round Position GP W D L GS GA
Hong Kong 1956 Did Not Qualify
South Korea 1960
Israel 1964
Iran 1968
Thailand 1972
Iran 1976 Group stage 5/6 2 0 1 1 1 3
Kuwait 1980 6/10 4 1 2 1 5 5
Singapore 1984 Did Not Qualify
Qatar 1988
Japan 1992
United Arab Emirates 1996
Lebanon 2000
China 2004
MalaysiaIndonesiaThailandVietnam 2007 Group stage 16/16 3 0 0 3 1 12
Qatar 2011 Did Not Qualify
Australia 2015
Total Best results: Group stage Appearances: 3/15 9 1 3 5 7 20
**Red border colour indicates tournament was held on home soil.

Asian Games[edit]

Asian Games record
Year Round Position GP W D L GS GA
India 1951 to Philippines 1954 Did not enter
Japan 1958 Group stage 12/14 3 0 0 3 2 8
Indonesia 1962 Third Place 3/8 5 3 0 2 23 9
Thailand 1966 Group stage 15/17 3 0 0 3 1 4
Thailand 1970 16/16 3 0 0 3 0 4
Iran 1974 Third Place 3/15 7 3 2 2 20 13
Thailand 1978 Semi-Final 7/14 5 2 0 3 4 10
India 1982 Group stage 14/16 3 0 0 3 1 4
South Korea 1986 15/18 3 0 1 2 2 5
China 1990 12/14 2 0 1 1 0 3
Japan 1994 11/18 4 1 1 2 6 11
Thailand 1998 Did not enter
Total Best results: Third Place Appearances: 12/16 36 9 4 23 59 68
Since 2002, the tournament has been restricted to squads with no more than 3 players over the age of 23, and these matches are not regarded as part of the national team's record, nor are caps awarded.

AFF Football Championship[edit]

SEA Games[edit]