The on-going 2022 World Cup qualification shows that at this point in time that Malaysian football is at a higher level than their Indonesian counterparts and with the majority of the national team players in both of these teams playing exclusively in their own country, that is a reflection of the state of the respective domestic leagues.
One person who could provide such comparison is Khairul Amri who has extended his stay with Felda United for another season after joining the club midway through the 2019 season. The Singaporean played with Persiba Balikpapan from 2010 to 2011 and he sees a huge disaprity between how the game is played in both these leagues.
"As a Singaporean, to play here helps improve my game as well as the others who are from the national team because the M-League is very competitive. Compared to my experience of playing in the Indonesian League, I feel that here it is tactically better.
"Over there a lot of players play with their hearts on their sleeves but it's different in Malaysia with the players more clever in adapting to tactical changes every time they play. For example, when I was playing in Indonesia when we are on the attack, the full backs will be right up there with us but not here.
"The games here are more competitive and disciplined. That makes the team look more balannce in attack and defend," said Amri.
Over the years, many Singaporeans like Amri have crossed the causeway to play with Malaysian teams and it will be no different in 2020 with the likes of Shakir Hamzah, Safuwan Baharudin and Faris Ramli all securing contracts with respective teams.
As for Felda who has lost experienced individuals like Hadin Azman, S. Chanturu, Norazlan Razali and Christie Jayaseelan, Amri is still hoping for a better season for The Fighters compared to their relegation battle for much of last season.
"I hope the players can adapt quickly but at the same time, I'm excited to see all these new players. Not only the import but the local players are very good level and my hope is that we don't repeat what happened last season. We had to fight until the final match to avoid relegation but this season we have a higher target even if I don't mind taking up the underdog label," said Amri.
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