Sabahans James Wong & Hassan Sani Led Malaysia into Olympics Soccer Qualifier in 1980

If you were lucky enough to watch the Olympics qualifier football match in 1980, you would have been very proud of these two Sabahans in action.

James Wong and Hassan Sani are former Malaysian footballers for Malaysia national football team and Sabah. Most Malaysians would remember them as the dynamic duo who propelled the Malaysian team into the Olympics qualifier in 1980.

Wong was born in Jesselton while Sani originated from Labuan.

During the Olympic games qualifier that year, Malaysia won the play-off against South Korea with a 2–1 score at the Merdeka Stadium. Wong scored the winning goal, with the assistance from Hassan Sani (watch the YouTube below).

Wong was known as King James or Ah Fook by the local fans, while Sani was called ‘Lipas Kudung‘ for his extreme agility on the field.

Even though Malaysia was already qualified for the Games, the national team did not go to the Olympics as they joined the US-led boycott against the Soviet Union for the invasion of Afghanistan.

The YouTube video below highlights their action during that 1980 match:

“Jung-Moo to the centre, Khalid heads it out to Hassan, still Hassan, Hassan moves forward, Young-jeung chases Hassan, Hassan passes it to James, chance for James, James, goal! Goal!”

Wong admitted that during those days football was not just a profession but a passion. Oh, those were the great days when the country’s team was feared by many established Asian teams.

Image via The Star

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I love the history of North Borneo (Sabah) and strive to digitally any related information on this website. I can be contacted at I'm also the author of

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