Southeast Asia Malaysia

Perak Mark Centenary Year with Historic Relegation – But What’s Next?

Perak FC managed to end their dreary 2021 Liga Super Malaysia campaign on a high-note, beating an off-color Sabah FC 2-1 at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh. However, the three points won’t save them from their fate that has already been sealed only the week before – the Bos Gaurus were relegated out of the Liga Super for the first time since the establishment of the Malaysian top flight in 1982. To add insult to injury, Perak were relegated in the year they were celebrating their 100th anniversary, having been established in 1921.

A 2-1 defeat at the hands of Melaka United on September 3rd confirmed Perak’s historic relegation, after a dismal season that saw a financial crisis, an exodus of quality talent, a change of head coaches, and the shock resignation of the club’s chief executive officer.

And while the Bos Gaurus started off the season with a good chunk of their key players being retained in the squad, the end of the season saw Perak finishing things up with a squad that looked like a shadow of their former self, most of their key members having jumped ship during the season.

Realizing the plight that Perak is experiencing right now, the president of the Perak Football Association (PAFA), Datuk Muhammad Yadzan Mohammad, urged out the need for everyone involved with Perak to unite together and bounce back from this ordeal.

“There’s no use crying over spilled milk. It is no use trying to blame the PAFA or Perak FC for this failure,” said Datuk Yadzan, as quoted from Malay Mail and Bernama, “To me, everyone is at fault. Right now, it is more important for us to sit together and think of innovative ways that we could use to return back to the Liga Super within two years.”

Former Perak player Zakaria Mohamed also voiced his opinions in the matter. According to Zakaria, huge changes must be done within the Perak coaching and playing staff, with up to 90 percent of them having to be culled for the next season. Zakaria stated that a head coach armed with a winning mentality as well as a number of talented young players are needed by Perak in order for the Bos Gaurus to bounce back and make their return to the Liga Super in the first time of asking.

Most importantly, Zakaria. who had played for Perak during the 70s and served as the club’s assistant coach in the early 2000s, stressed the importance of a cordial relationship between players and club management.

“Since there was no communication between the management and the players, Perak’s salary issues were circulated openly on social media and eventually everyone knows about it,” said Zakaria, as quoted from Malay Mail, “This negatively affected not only the players, but also the team as a whole.”

Syamsul Baharin Putra Ahmad Shibi, president of the Perak Football Supporters Coalition, said that in order to save the club, individuals within the management at either Perak or PAFA or even both must step down in order for those with more competency to replace them.

“Perhaps the time has come for us to let Perak to be taken over by corporate companies or those who are truly keen in managing the team,” said Syamsul, as quoted from Malay Mail.

And while bouncing back from relegation at the first attempt is something that’s quite feasible, Perak must be wary of cases where former top-flight mainstays are struggling within their country’s lower leagues.

Having been relegated out of the Bundesliga in 2018 after 99 years in the highest tier of the German footballing pyramid, Hamburg SV are still struggling within the 2.Bundesliga, the second tier of German football. Another recent example is Brazil’s Cruzeiro, who ended their 98-year stay in the top-flight in 2019 and failed to return back to the premier category in the first attempt.

The Bos Gaurus would love to make sure that their stay in the Liga Premier next season will be a brief one and they will do whatever it takes to not follow in the footsteps of Hamburg and Cruzeiro.