Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's prime minister is hoping the country's first South East Asian Games soccer title in two decades will be a springboard to a revival of the nation's footballing fortunes.
Malaysia beat Vietnam 1-0 in the final of the under-23 tournament in Vientiane, Laos on Thursday to win regional bragging rights for the fourth time, but the first since 1989.
"We wish to see a significant change in the position of our football team compared to the other nations," Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told a newspaper.
"We should use this victory as a stepping stone for greater success in future."
While many Malaysians are passionate about soccer and the country is a popular stop on Asian pre-season tours for the likes of Manchester United, the national team have never qualified for the World Cup and are currently 160th in the FIFA rankings.
First Published: Friday, December 18, 2009, 12:53