Saturday, June 27, 2009
A TALL ORDER
A place in history beckons for Tai Beng Hai and his team should they emerge as The top team in the Champions Challenge II in Dublin next month.
For no Malaysian team has emerged as Champion in any international tournament, with the exception of the Sea Games as far as one can remember.
The Malaysian "B" team were runners-up to Holland in the Rene Frank Trophy held in Malaysia in the late 70's. For the record the national team finished third.
And in the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, which served as the qualifier for the Bombay 82 World Cup, Malaysia were runner up to Russia.
Besides that Malaysia qualified for three Azlan Shah Cup finals, in 1985,2007 and 2009 but always ended up the bridesmaids.
Malaysia go into the Champions Challenge II as the second highest FIH ranked team, behind Japan.
But they will have to contend with the likes of Poland,Russia,France and hosts Ireland for a place in history and promotion to Champions Challenge I.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation has set the team a target, emerge as Champions.
But setting targets seem to be a norm. It makes no difference if teams achieve the targets or not.
Beng Hai was set two targets, a top two finish in the depleted Azlan Shah Cup field and top four in the Asia Cup.
He achieved both but remains interim coach and there is no guarantee that if he delivers at Dublin he will get a contract to helm the team for the next two years.
The big question here is what if Beng Hai fails to steer the team to the number one spot at the Champions Challenge?
Will MHF remove him with less then five months left for the World Cup qualifiers?
Is there a back up plan in place to secure another coach which we are all unaware of?
One thing is certain though, its a tall order for Beng Hai and his boys in Ireland.
Let's wait and hope for the best and that's all we can do.