By Falah Abdullah
Malaysia's recent failures in defending their AFF Suzuki Cup title caught the attention of one of football’s super agents, James Hardy. As an introduction, Mr. Hardy is a football agent currently managing many top Australian football players and boasts an impressive clientele which include PSV legend and former Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman, and Greek's defensive rock Vangelis Moras.
"To me the reason why the Malaysia national team is not living up to current expectations is because the top players get paid far too much money to play for their respective clubs in Malaysia and have everything too easy," Hardy stated in an exclusive interview with Goal.com Malaysia.
He went on to add that the local players are too comfortable playing in the local league.
"They get comfortable and do not want to leave the comfort zone of the Malaysia Super League." he said.
On the current trend of high wages being paid to our football stars, Hardy believes that it is arresting their ambition to further their career abroad.
"They have no ambition to play in Europe, because they earn too much money in Malaysia. The salaries they earn in Malaysia are higher than they would earn in most football nations in Europe and that is the problem. They are not exposed to different styles of play and this is preventing their development as footballers."
When asked on whether Malaysian players have the required technical ability to play in the top European leagues, Hardy was resolute that our key players have what it takes to venture into the promise land.
"Players such as Safee Sali, Safiq Rahim, and Mat Yo (Norshahrul Idlan Talaha) are all fantastic players and good enough technically, but they need to change their mentality and push themselves to the next level."