Merdeka Tournament

Why is Malaysia football team called ‘Harimau Malaya’?

Gourav SamalGourav Samal

October 10 2023
(Courtesy : Utusan Malaysia)

India will take on Malaysia in Merdeka Cup on 13 October.

Giving teams a second name or a nickname is a common practice among fans and sports enthusiasts worldwide. Whether it’s a club or a national team, in every sport, there is usually a name that resonates with the team and becomes widely recognized. Such names hold significant importance and are often used to refer to the team in question.

Similarly, the Malaysian football team also has a name “Harimau Malaya.”

Meaning of Harimau Malaya

In simple words “Harimau Malaya” means “Tigers of Malaysia.”

Moreover, “Harimau” signifies ‘tiger’ in the Bahasa language of Malaysia and is predominantly indigenous to peninsular Malaysia. The tiger holds significant cultural significance as it serves as Malaysia’s national emblem.

Notably, the iconic image of the Malayan tiger leaping over a football is incorporated into the logo of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), representing the valor and magnificence displayed by football players on the field.

Emergence of such title

The appellation ‘Harimau Malaya’ is said to have originated from Abdullah Mohammed Don, a highly regarded football athlete from Malaya, who was commonly known as Dollah Don, during the 1940s. It was Indonesian President Sukarno who bestowed this prominent striker with the epithet ‘Harimau Malaya’.

Who was Abdullah Mohammed Don?

The legendary footballer exuded finesse and dexterity in his gameplay, gaining immense popularity not only in his homeland but also across various Southeast Asian and East Asian countries such as Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, and the Philippines due to his exceptional goal-scoring abilities.

Instance of Abdullah’s Fandom

In 1946, Dollah participated in a friendly match held in Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia. A significant number of spectators had eagerly gathered to witness the renowned athlete in action. However, unfortunate circumstances unfolded as Dollah fell ill before the match commenced, rendering him unable to partake in the game.

The spectators became disruptive and insisted on receiving a refund of their contributions. Consequently, the event coordinators were compelled to accede to their demands and issue the respective reimbursements. As a result, the match took place subsequently, albeit in an unoccupied stadium as the disappointed fans had already departed from the premises.

Harimau Malaya to Harimau Malaysia

The national team represents all citizens of Malaysia, including those residing in Sabah and Sarawak, who may have felt excluded due to the usage of the term ‘Harimau Malaya’.

It is important to acknowledge that the country has been known as Malaysia since its formation in 1963, when it amalgamated with Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore.

According to the Football Association of Malaysia, the official nickname for Malaysia’s national football team is “Harimau Malaysia.”

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube; download the Khel Now Android App or IOS App and join our community on Whatsapp & Telegram.