Football legend Syed Ahmad dies

SYED Ahmad Syed Abu Bakar, who is known as one of Malaysia's greatest ever strikers, died at the Kangar Hospital yesterday at the age of 76 after battling prostate cancer.

Syed Ahmad is survived by his wife, Samihah Razali and five children, Syed Ahmad Shahazuddin, Syed Zaimuddin, Wan Noor Atikah, Syed Abu Bakar and former national high jumper Syed Zamilluddin.

The lanky Syed Ahmad is known for playing a key role in helping the national team win a bronze medal at the 1974 Tehran Asian Games.

He donned the national jersey from 1966 to 1974, helping Malaysia win the 1966, 1968 and 1974 Merdeka Tournament titles.

Syed Ahmad stamped his mark as one of the country's greats when he saw action for the national team during the 1972 Munich Olympic qualifying campaign.

The team qualified for the 1972 Olympics in style as Malaysia stayed unbeaten without conceding a single goal with wins over Japan (3-0), South Korea (1-0), Taiwan (3-0) and the Philippines (5-0).

Syed Ahmad himself plundered five goals in Malaysia's swashbuckling qualifying campaign, and his most important goal came from a header in the 1-0 win over South Korea, only two days after bagging a hat-trick to destroy Japan 3-0.

Despite his heroics in the qualifying round, Syed Ahmad missed the 1972 Munich Olympics due to a back injury.

The Prisons Department officer made his return to the national team for the 1974 Pestabola Merdeka, and duly scored three goals en route to the title in a tournament which saw the emergence of his successor, the late Datuk Mokhtar Dahari.

Shaharuddin Abdullah, who was Syed Ahmad's former national and Penang teammate, said his strike partner was a happy-go-lucky person.

"I'm saddened by the passing of Syed Ahmad, I know that he was battling cancer for some time. I'm old now, so it's difficult for me to travel for his funeral, but I will call his wife and convey my condolences," said Shaharuddin.

"He was one of the greatest strikers to play for the country, he was very lethal and combined well with the other strikers in the team.

"He was a very kind person and had no issues combining with senior or junior players in the national team."

Syed Ahmad first represented Johor in the Combined Schools competition at primary school level and then played in the Burnley Cup in 1961.

Despite starting his career with his home state Johor, Syed Ahmad made a name for himself with three Northern teams, Penang (1965-1972), Perak (1972-1980) and Kedah (1980-1981).

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