Ola Bola

A journalist, Marianne is commissioned to research the Malaysia national football team of the 80’s. Disillusioned by her working life in Malaysia, she decides to emigrate to England once she completes the project. She goes to Sabah to interview Eric, a former player of the team.

In 1980, the team practises for the upcoming pre-Olympics matches, with captain Chow Kwok Keong serving as the interim coach until Harry Mountain takes over. Meanwhile, aspiring sports commentator and Chow’s friend, Rahman practises with his mentors. Mountain revises the formation, such as by having Eric being changed from a reserve goalkeeper to a striker. Having not getting used to the new formation, and also due to Chow disobeying the coach’s orders, the team is unable to win any friendly matches. Soon, Eric and fellow striker Ali have a falling out over the squad number 10. Chow assumes responsibility for their embarrassing performance and quits the team.

The team continues on their losing streak. In the meantime, the three younger brothers of Muthu the goalkeeper are injured in an attempt to help their father deliver coconuts by driving the lorry. Fed up with Muthu’s (fruitless) football endeavours and him not being able to help with work, Muthu’s father reprimands him. Muthu contemplates also about quitting the team out of perceived incompetence, but does not do so.

Chow remembers his pledge to lead the team to glory and decides to rejoin the team. Mountain welcomes him back and advises him to “not make the same mistakes I did when I was younger.” After extensive practice and military training, the team finally starts winning again.

Malaysia competes with South Korea at Stadium Merdeka in the final match, where Rahman is assigned to commentate. In the first half, an opponent informs Ali that Malaysia is boycotting the Olympics. During the half-time break, Ali shares the news to his teammates’ disappointment. Mountain and Chow knew about this all along, but could not disclose it lest team morale be affected. Not willing to give up, Muthu encourages them to play on resolutely regardless whether they make it to Moscow. They display excellent skill and teamwork later on as Rahman delivers a thrilling and emphatic commentary. Ali scores the decisive goal; they win 3–2.

In the present day, Marianne gets the now-elderly Chow on television and has changed her mind about leaving. In a post-credits scene, she tells her boss Rahman that she knows his “secret”: his past career as football commentator.

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