FANS will have to yet again wait longer to see the national football team competing in the Fifa World Cup.
But for this year’s edition in Russia, they can cheer four Malaysians who will be in the thick of action when the competition starts on June 14.
The four are physician Datuk Dr Gurcharan Singh, long-time football administrator Datuk Windsor Paul John, referee instructor Subkhiddin Salleh and public relations practitioner Christopher Raj.
They share their Russian mission with Twentytwo13.
Datuk Dr Gurcharan Singh (venue medical officer)
“This will be my fifth World Cup. The mechanics of the World Cup is the same everywhere but what makes a difference is the culture of the host nation.
I’m the venue medical officer and also in the anti-doping control team.
Given the recent doping scandals in Russia, Fifa will be handling the test results and even transportation … everything from A to Z. No Russians will be involved.
I’m leaving on Saturday (tomorrow) morning. It’s difficult to predict who will win the World Cup but I think Germany has the advantage.
I’m 68 and at this age, if given a chance to play football, I’ll stick to being a goalkeeper (laughs).”
Datuk Windsor Paul John (match commissioner)
“This will be my sixth World Cup after France (1998), Korea/Japan (2002), Germany (2006), South Africa (2010), and Brazil (2014).
Teams are demanding more and more. They want perfect training pitches where they spend more time than on the playing field. So we need to ensure the pitches near the base camps are of top quality.
There are no fears of terror threats.
Of course there is no such thing as zero risk but this was planned years ahead by Fifa and the local security authorities.
So all’s good and I’m sure it will be a festival to remember.
Who will win this time? It’s a different Brazil and we can never underestimate Germany, Argentina and France. It’s all about the teams which are used to high-level competition and adapting to pressure.”
Subkhiddin Salleh (referee’s technical instructor)
“This is my second World Cup outing after serving as the fourth official in South Africa (2010).
It’s different as the demands of the game are more challenging today and we have VAR (video assistant referee) technology in Russia.
It’s been long hours for me since landing in Moscow on May 31. It’s going to be an exciting month for sure. There are a number of good teams but I believe Germany – despite the not so great build-up to this World Cup – is still the main contender for the title.”
Christopher Raj (media officer)
“This is my first World Cup. I was part of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in India last October. It’s an honour to represent the country but it comes with a huge responsibility.
I’ll be based at the Spartak Stadium (Moscow) and my first match will be Argentina-Iceland. I’ve to ensure everything goes well and that members of the press are looked after.
There will be between 500 and 600 journalists in Moscow.
I’m there to work so there will be no selfie or wefie moments.
My favourite team is Germany but this is an open World Cup that could go any way.”