After reaching two Challenge Cup final matches in their first two Premier League seasons; can UKM FC reach the Malaysia Cup in their third season?
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
University side UKM FC staff are quick to admit that they are a minnow in the Malaysian league, but that does not mean they are afraid to reach greater heights.
After all, despite having only been in the Premier League for two seasons, the club that represent the National University of Malaysia (UKM), ended both years in safety from relegation, while reaching the Challenge Cup final.
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For 2020, they are trying to better their past seasons’ achievements, although their targets are still considerably humble, as compared to those of other professional Malaysian clubs.
Their 2020 jerseys launch event on Wednesday too was a modest affair, perhaps reflecting their limited means. While other clubs’ events are usually held in air-conditioned halls or auditoriums, which a public university should have plenty of, UKM’s was instead held at the Pusanika student centre inside the university, in Bandar Baru Bangi, attended by the undergraduates and staff.
In the same event, university chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Abdul Wahid Omar laid out what the club want to achieve this season.
“The club themselves have set the target of finishing the league campaign in the top five position, and qualify for the Malaysia Cup.
“The university meanwhile wants the club to feature undergraduates and graduates of this university. We want them to be successful athlete-graduates.
“We also want the team to be independent in terms of management and finances. Our budget is limited, so we need to harness our spirit instead of hiring experienced outside professionals. I respect the players we have, for wanting to be with us despite the restrictions,” said Wahid.
To that end, the club are looking for sponsorships and independent contributions in order to run their operations this season. Apart from selling season passes that cost RM150, RM500 and RM1000, the event on Wednesday also saw the club highlighting their sponsors.
Most interestingly, also called up to the stage was an alumnus, a professor himself at another public university, who made a RM25,000 personal contribution to the Varsity Boys.
A professor has contributed RM25K of his personal money to UKM FC’s funds pic.twitter.com/FuIQhp2gXo
— Zulhilmi Zainal (@zulhilmibzainal) February 26, 2020
Unfortunately, their self-sufficiency plans have hit a snag. They had earlier planned to use the UKM mini stadium, located inside the university ground, to host their home matches. But the lack of funds to upgrade the venue to league specifications has forced them to shelve the plan for the time being, and to play their home games at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium instead, situated 50 kilometres away.
“Our own stadium does not fulfill the requirements, especially that of safety, so we have to play in Selayang. I know it’s not the most convenient venue, but we will make sure that the team has support when they play there.
“In the meantime, we are looking for sponsors to help us upgrade the stadium, so that we can play our home games there,” explained university deputy vice-chancellor of students and alumni affairs, and club deputy president Dato’ Othman A. Karim.
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