KUALA LUMPUR: The country last night came to standstill as football fans stayed glued to their television sets as Malaysia took on Indonesia in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup final at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta last night.
There were also those who gathered with friends at the mamak restaurants to catch the national team battle it out and create history in the premier regional football competition, and restore some pride and glory to Malaysian soccer.
Supporters went all out to wear the Malaysian team colours of blue or yellow, many wearing the Malaysian jersey to the restaurants just show their support for the team.
In the nail-biting second-leg played at the packed Jakarta stadium, Malaysia defeated their arch rivals to lift the cup for the first time.
In the first leg played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday night, Malaysia comprehensively beat Indonesia 3-0.
Indeed the interest and following in last night’s match, just as in the first leg at National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday night, was remarkable.
It was a football fever that had not gripped the nation before, probably not seen since the era of Mokhtar Dahari and gang when the national team was not just a regional powerhouse, but also one of the most feared in Asia.
At Dataran Merdeka here, a giant screen telecast the match live, courtesy of the Youth and Sports Ministry, for the benefit of those who preferred to follow the match with a bigger crowd and in a more electrifying atmosphere.
Even in the cyber world, updates by Malaysians on Twitter and Facebook hit an all time high, which started since that glorious Sunday night and peaked hours before last night’s match.
Most, including politicians, changed their profile photos to Harimau Malaya logo as if to show their patriotic support for the Malaysian team.
Wishes came pouring out and Twitter tags were also created at #harimaumalaya and #malaysiaboleh by Internet-savvy Malaysian.
At certain stages of the match, Malaysians expressed their sentiment with some saying “my heart stopped”, “excellent keeper” and “I had heart attack several times over”.