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How Harimau Malaya 1980 Came Roaring Back

In the 1980s, the Malaysian national football team were a force to be reckoned with!

How Harimau Malaya 1980 Came Roaring Back
Everybody still recalls the popular film Ola Bola, which raked in a whopping RM2.5 million in the box office in its first four days on the silver screen! Set in the 1980, the Chiu Keng Guan-directed movie is a fictional retelling of factual events that involved the national football team’s bold, challenging journey towards qualifying for the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow.

Known then as ‘Harimau Malaya’, the team used a combination of players from Singapore and Malaya until Singapore exited Malaysia in 1965. The team continued using players only from the Peninsular until Sabahan James Wong was drafted to the team in 1971. Some identifiable top players from that period include Hassan Sani, Wong Fook Chuan, N. Thanabalan, Zulkifli Norbit, Abdullah Nordin and many others.

On February 2 2016, the National football team is to be known as ‘Harimau Malaysia’ instead of ‘Harimau Malaya’ as the FA of Malaysia president (FAM) Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, hoped the new name would spur the team on to greater heights.

"FAM feels 'Harimau Malaya' is no longer suitable in view of the fact the word Malaya itself is not used widely in the country after the formation of Malaysia in 1963. I hope the new name better reflects that the national team belongs to all Malaysians.

Image: @ain235
"But I don't want just a name change. The players must have a new spirit to seek success ... a Harimau Malaysia which is more fearsome and can devour its opponents, at least in South-East Asia," he said at a ceremony to present the team's sponsors.

The national team was founded in 1963 Merdeka Tournament one month before the establishment of the Malaysian Federation. The most noteworthy success of the team was in the regional AFF Suzuki Cup (formerly known as the ‘Tiger Cup’) which Malaysia won in 2010 for the first time in history! The Malaysian team beat Indonesia 4-2 on aggregate in the final to capture the country’s first major international football championship.

Ultras Malaya is the name given to the major supporters for the national team and they are known for their high level of dedication and support towards the ‘Harimau Malaya’. Even in every international match the national team played, they will be found in the main colours which are black with a yellow scarf and banners just like the national team kit colours.

We are beyond proud of our men on the turf representing our country!
The premiere date for the documentary: 16 September, 9pm on Astro Arena! Head here for more information.