IN any sport, ranking indicates the level of achievement or the standing of a team. In some countries, ranking will determine the issuance of work permits for foreign players wishing to ply their trade in the countries concerned.
For example, to play in the English Premier League (EPL), players must come from football-playing nations with the ranking of less than 70. Malaysia is ranked 156 while Sri Lanka, which the national team thrashed 6-0 in the recent friendly international "A" match, is at 181.
For national coach Datuk K. Rajagobal, it's about trying out a new set of players and keeping them in match-fit condition. For the Sri Lankans, it's a good learning experience.
The national team, being lowly ranked, is in a predicament.
It's getting precariously difficult, and for the obvious reasons, to find quality "sparring partners".
The nation will soon be celebrating its Independence Day in August.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) should seize the opportunity to restage the Merdeka Tournament by inviting national teams from the Asean countries to participate, where matches will be competitive as the teams have similar rankings as that of our national team.
The tournament will also serve as a prelude to the AFF Suzuki Cup, to be held later this year, where the national team will be defending the championship title it last won in 2010.
Staging the Merdeka Tournament and playing some of the matches at the Merdeka Stadium, provided the stadium is still useable, will certainly bring back fond memories of football of yesteryear and add splendour to the Independence Day celebrations.
W.M. Ramli, Ulu Klang, Selangor