Pestabola Merdeka or Merdeka Tournament is a friendly football tournament held in Malaysia to commemorate the Independence Day. The competition bears the Malay word for independence. As at 2021 it has been held 40 times, and decreasingly in recent decades.
|Number of teams||Varied|
|Current champions||Malaysia U-23 (2nd titles)|
|Most successful team(s)||Malaysia (10 titles)|
Its final has been mainly held at Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. An unusual feature is it has four times seen a draw result, twice with the home nation and teams from South Korea, and twice with the latter and variously Taiwan and Myanmar (then predominantly called Burma).
Teams from all continents apart from North America have been the runners up or champions.
The Pestabola Merdeka is Asia`s oldest football tournament which invited football playing nations to compete since 1957. While the tournament had been held annually from 1957 to 1988, it has been held only nine times from 1989 to 2013. During the late 1950s to early 1980s, it was a prestigious tournament among Asian nations because the participants sent their full senior players. After the 1980s, interest in the cup waned from both football fans and football teams, because many Asian nations focused more on the qualification phases in FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup.
The first edition of the Pestabola Merdeka was held in August and September 1957 with Hong Kong emerging inaugural champions. However, from then on it was purely dominated by Malaysia, South Korea, Myanmar, Indonesia and a host of other countries, including South American and European clubs.
Malaysia/Malaya exclusively lifted the trophy ten times, emerged runners-up on eight occasions, and in addition shared the winner’s rostrum twice with South Korea (1960 and 1979), while South Korean sides have won it seven times.
Indonesia, Taiwan and Myanmar hold multi-winning accolades. The other champions were Morocco (1980), New Zealand (2000), Uzbekistan (2001), Czechoslovakia Olympic football team (1987) and Austria’s with their SK Admira Wacker (1991), German Hamburger SV (1988), Argentinian Buenos Aires XI (1983) and Brazilian Santa Catarina XI (1982).
Below are the list of champions in Pestabola Merdeka competitions since 1957.
Note: 1 All teams participant fielded their strongest side and their match are regarded as full internationals for their association. 2 South Korea was represented by a reserve team with some senior players.
Below are the record of teams in Pestabola Merdeka competitions (1957–present).
|1||Malaysia (including Malaya)||10||7||2||17|
|6||South Korea B||3||1||1||4|
|7||Vietnam (including South Vietnam)||2||—||—||2|
|11||SK Admira Wacker||1||—||—||1|
|11||Buenos Aires XI||1||—||—||1|
|11||Hong Kong League XI[note 1]||1||—||—||1|
|11||Santa Catarina XI||1||—||—||1|
|13||Sao Paulo XI||—||1||—||1|
|13||Minas Gerais XI||—||1||—||1|
|13||América FC Rio de Janeiro||—||1||—||1|
|13||FC Tirol Innsbruck||—||1||—||1|
|13||China Olympic Team||—||1||—||1|
|13||Budapesti Vasas SC||—||1||—||1|
|13||Bosnia and Herzegovina||—||1||—||1|
Overall top scorersEdit
|3||Cha Bum-kun||South Korea||21|
Here are some prominent footballers, who participated in this competition.
- Hong Kong sent its team that consisted of players that represented Republic of China (Taiwan) or Hong Kong from 1957 to 1961. From 1963 to 1968 here, the team officially represented Republic of China (Taiwan) yet was Hong Kong-based Republic of China international footballers; Hong Kong's national team also formally joined since 1965 as well as Taiwan's.
- See South Korea national football team results (1960–69).
- See Japan national football team results (1960–69).
- See South Korea national football team results (1970–79).
- See Japan national football team results (1970–79).
- Ajitpal Singh (7 September 2013). "Glory beckons Malaysia". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 8 September 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- Ted Gim (2 September 2008). ""Hari Merdeka" Observed in Seoul". The Seoul Times. malaysia.or.kr. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- Asiaweek. Asiaweek Limited. 1990.
- Eric Samuel (31 August 2017). "Halcyon days of Malaysian football". The Star. Archived from the original on 10 June 2021. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- Sulaiman Ismail (25 December 2018). "Pestabola Merdeka Akan Dianjurkan Mengikut Kalendar FIFA". Semuanya Bola (in Malay). Archived from the original on 27 July 2021. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
- T. Avineshwaran (13 May 2004). "Sporting landmarks through the years". The Star. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- Neil Morrison (10 September 2015). "Merdeka Tournament (Malaysia)". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- "Malaysia national football team 'A' international record: [1959-60 season]". 11v11. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- "Malaysia national football team 'A' international record: [1960-61 season]". 11v11. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- "Malaysia national football team 'A' international record: [1973-74 season]". 11v11. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- "Kuwait national football team 'A' international record: [1973-74 season]". 11v11. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- "Malaysia national football team 'A' international record: [1975-76 season]". 11v11. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- Mamrud, Roberto (18 March 2021). "Mohamed Mokhtar Dahari – Century of International Appearances". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Archived from the original on 18 June 2021. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
- Hatano, Morio. "Kunishige Kamamoto - Goals in international matches". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- Villante, Eric. "Bum-Kun Cha - Century of international appearances". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 3 July 2021. Retrieved 8 July 2020.