FC Kuala Lumpur

Battling in Borneo

Facing sides from as far afield as Australia, our FC Kuala Lumpur teams had their work cut out when they travelled to Kota Kinabalu last month. But, as Team Talk finds out, they gained invaluable experience.

FC Kuala Lumpur’s road to the 2015 Borneo Football Cup began at the end of the summer. Players returned to training from the end-of-season break and Coach Filipe and Coach Shazwan, along with assistants Waq, Cyrus and Chris, began the process of developing Under-11 and Under-14 teams that could compete at the region’s most prestigious youth football tournament. It was a tough but ultimately rewarding journey, and one that both Filipe and Shazwan agree will pave the way for the next level of competition at Little League Soccer and FC Kuala Lumpur.

Now with the tournament behind them, the coaches can reflect on three months of commitment from players, parents and all involved in the trip to Kota Kinabalu.

“I think they did what I was expecting them to do,” Coach Filipe begins, “which was to play well, to play good football, but not necessarily to win every game; that wasn’t the goal. The teams there were very, very competitive and have been playing together for a very long time. But every match was tight; we were in the game for every match and that was the most important thing.”

Coach Shazwan agrees. “I think most important for these boys is: we are still quite new in terms of training and as an elite squad. So what I was looking for from them was to be able to adjust from the weekend training sessions and go into a more intense period of training. It was a wake-up call for these boys – this is how the serious teams train. But obviously three months is not enough to complete the process.


“We could compete at the Borneo Cup, but if you look at the football the Australian teams are playing, for example, it is totally different. I think that’s a good thing for everyone to see. We can do what they’re doing, but the training has to intensify.”

There are many more positives, of course, that can be drawn from such a tournament and training period. There are the results, for one, with the Under-11 team reaching the third-fourth place play-off and the Under-14s finishing just three points off third place. And there’s also the fact that the teams have incredibly bright futures ahead of them.


“Looking at the squad playing in the Under-11 tournament,” Shazwan says, “we actually only have three players who are 11 years old; the rest are ten years old and we have three nine-year-olds as well. Next year if we can keep the same squad we’ll go for the Under-12 competition and hopefully we’ll see the improvement. But we’ll need to start preparations almost immediately.”

“Definitely,” says Filipe. “I think the preparation for the next Borneo Cup started the week after we got back from the tournament. Through training sessions, identifying players and playing in the Ambition Junior League, we are already looking at next year.”


While the boys played well as a team, both coaches are keen to point out a couple of individual performances of particular note.

“For me, Jack Hamzah was absolutely unbelievable,” Shazwan says. “For his age, as a nine-year-old, and his size as well, he was by far one of the best players around. I think the football intelligence he has will see him become a much better player in the next few years.”

“In terms of players,” Filipe says, “I liked Shafiq from the Under-14s. He’s really smart and the commitment and effort that he gave was outstanding. And as a team I think everyone came back with a stronger team spirit than they took there, which is exactly what we hoped for.”