Argentina lifeline to pull up Malaysia football?

Manuel-Balaguer-Salas

KUALA LUMPUR: With Malaysia’s national football team in the doldrums, Argentina’s ambassador has offered a ray of hope.

He wants to send some Malaysian players and coaches to his country for training.

Manuel Balaguer Salas, who took up duties as Argentina’s ambassador to Malaysia three months ago, hopes to strengthen bilateral ties in time to mark the 50th anniversary next year of diplomatic relations.

Argentina is one of the world’s greatest footballing nations, and won the World Cup twice and were runners-up three times with players such as Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi becoming household names.

“Football is very popular in Malaysia, just as passionate as the Argentinians. I am planning to send some players from here or vice versa, to put them into training programs, in order to further expose and develop them at an international level.

“Not only is this limited to the players, but also to the coaches and staff members of the team as well,” he said in an interview with Bernama.

Argentina are ranked among the top five in the world while Malaysia has fallen to 171st, the lowest in the country’s footballing history, from 75th in 1993.

Salas also told Bernama his country wanted to improve economic ties and was working with the Islamic Development Department and Halal Development Centre for imports of Argentina’s world-renowned beef.

Argentinian beef has been off Malaysian shelves for five years because of halal regulations. He suggested that Malaysians could invest and set up abattoirs in Argentina to cater to the needs of the domestic market.