Monday, May 18, 2009


Another edition of Asia Cup has ended, and Malaysia finished fourth, thereby achieving the target set by the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) President Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.

To be frank, it was a mediocre target to start with, as the grand prize at stake was to make the 2010 World Cup on merit. So really we should have targetted a place in the final.

By finishing fourth, not only did we fail to qualify on merit, but also failed to defend our third place finish that we achieved in Chenai in the 2007 edition of Asia Cup.

Pakistan were beatable, but we failed to make use of the opportunity and will now have to rue what we could have achieved.

Most of those in the hockey fraternity will be pleased with the performance, citing the fact always repeated by coach Tai Beng Hai and those in MHF that one cannot expect miracles from a team that was set up barely four months ago.

That my dear Beng Hai, and those in MHF is a lame excuse. How long are we going on about lack of preparation and so forth? In football, all the national coach gets is a maximum of 10 days to prepare his team. Ask Tengku Mahkota that and I am certain he will confirm this fact.

On this subject we must now ask what will be our priority, to finish top at the Champions Challenge Two in Ireland in July or forego that and do hard work in training to make the grade at the qualifiers, no matter how impossible it may seem to some quarters.

Will there be a MHL as the fasting month starts in mid August and the World Cup Qalifiers in November?

So let's now touch on the performance of the team rather then dwell on target and performance.

We need thinking players as it was clear the present squad lacks players in the calibere of S.Kuhan, Mirnawan Nawawi and Maninderjit Singh.

Take for example the match against China where we had taken the lead with five minutes left to play. You do not need the coaches to tell you what to do at that crucial moments. We should have kept possession and work the ball into corners to frustrate the Chinese, but obviously that did not happen.

Then there is the issue of being creative when in an offensive position. With the auto play rule in place, it is vital for players to be creative, for their split second decision can make the difference between winning and losing.

The same applies to the defenders as at times there is a tendency to be irrational, as in the case of Mohd Amin who conceded a penalty corner against China with eight seconds on the clock.

The inability of the strikers to create penalty corners is something Beng Hai must start looking into.

This again calls for creativity and this sadly is missing in our fowardline. Skills like this cannot be taught overnight and that is why Beng Hai needs to include a strikers coach in his coaching set-up.

It was all not gloomy for the fitness has improved and its good to see youngsters like Ismail Abu, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Kelvinder Singh carrying out their responsibilities well.

The inclusion of Jiwa Mohan was another good decision by Beng Hai. Together with Mohd Madzli Ikmar and Amin, we have an experienced backline with S.Kumar ever reliable in between the posts.

What the team lacks is maturity, despite having players like Ismail who made his debut in 2002.

Perhaps its time to make bold and decisive decisions TM.

Send our players out to play in foreign leagues, and pick Germany and Holland and the destinations. You could do by sending at least eight players to be exposed.

Only then can we start talking about making the grade internationally.

Between now and the qualifiers we have six months to work on our weakness, so make use of the time. Get the priorities right, expose Beng Hai and his players in Europe if we want a fair shot of qualifying. And stop thinking of making it through the back door in the event FIH do the unthinkable to take away India's hosting rights.

On the organisational aspects, it will take a whole page to list out where we went wrong.

For example how was it the Malaysian team photo in the program book saw the team donned in a different attire then the official MHF sponsor.

So I rather not as I rest my case.