From club outcast to national hero

Brendan Gan

His name has been on the lips of Malaysian football fans after inspiring a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Thailand on Thursday.

The win in the World Cup Qatar 2022/AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifiers has made Brendan Gan the new poster boy of Harimau Malaya but sadly, not with his club Perak.

The Australian-born midfielder who helped the Bos Gaurus win the Malaysia Cup in 2018, is said to be heading to Selangor after Perak decided against renewing his contract.

Despite that setback, he has shone with the national team and will have another chance to make his mark when Indonesia comes a calling at Bukit Jalil Stadium tonight.

The match promises to be another cracker with a rocking stadium – tickets were sold out days ago – against a team we all hate losing to.

Gan, who overcame two anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries – in 2015 and 2016, the second time in a friendly against Indonesia – knows he will be in the shop window again.

He has yet to announce where he will play next season but Selangor is in the driver’s seat to sign him.

Having said that, is the media going overboard with its praise for Gan?

Yes, he was outstanding against Thailand but we have been crying out for heroes that any decent performance makes us go ga-ga.

Gan, 31, has a matured head on his shoulder and will not take anything for granted. The way he battled back from two bad injuries shows he knows all about the ups and downs of football.

Here’s hoping he carries on producing “top quality” football, against Indonesia and beyond.

While the spotlight is on Gan, coach Tan Cheng Hoe deserves praise for turning Malaysia into a team to be reckoned with.

Since taking over in March 2018, Tan has been in charge of 29 matches and won 16 of them.

Before that, Malaysia had 16 wins from 70 games (23 per cent win record in 61 months).

Fight for Change 2019

Under Tan, Malaysia’s ranking has improved from No 178 to No 158. It is expected to move higher up next month.

Malaysia’s chances of qualifying for World Cup and/or Asian Cup still hang in the balance but the improved performances under Tan give us hope of a brighter future.

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