Friday, November 20, 2009


The plight of Malaysian hockey has become the object of much derision over the years. Thus it has become a national imperative to put things right, so as to restore the gloss and pride of place to the nation's most successful team sport.

The facts are laid bare; we have failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, period. The target set was qualification and finishing second best is not getting us on the plane to New Delhi. Neither are we going to be in the World top 12 as envisioned by HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.

So it is a failure and calling it by another name will be injustice to teams of 2004, 2006 and 2008 who failed to make the Olympics and World Cups. But before one starts to assume that the efforts of the team at Invercargill are not appreciated, then they best not carry on reading the review.

Malaysia, despite the various issues surrounding it, right from indiscipline, dropping of senior players and a less then comprehensive preparation did well to make the final and lose out by a mere 13 minutes for a place in the World Cup, so kudos to them for the effort.

Statistics do not lie, and the fact that we concede many goals via penalty corners is something that has stood out like a sore thumb. Our forward are naïve as they fail to capitalize when in possession, but more startling was what Tai Beng Hai told at a post match press conference, that he has instructed players not to create penalty corners but score field goals when in the semi circle.

Then we have a weakened penalty corner defence and attack as skipper Mohd Madzi Ikmar was warming the bench after the loss against New Zealand in the preliminary round.

Madzli was the first choice penalty corner stopper as well as post-man for penalty corner defence, and how keeper S. Kumar must have wished that Madzli was beside him when facing Andrew Hayward in the final.

But not making the World Cup will probably help Malaysian hockey more then if we had qualified for all the shortcomings would have been swept under the carpet, as has been the norm ever since we started failing to get through qualifiers, dating back to 1985.

The decision by the National Sports Council is the right one; the team must be disbanded to allow the new coach to identify players from the Malaysian Hockey League.

The next step will be to do away with the year long centralized training and send players to compete abroard in the foreign leagues. Let us not be choosy on the leagues as we have to accept that at a world ranking of 16, top clubs are not about to come knocking on the doors of the MHF office at Bukit Jalil.

Should MHF decide to retain Beng Hai, then he should be told before the MHL commences and be entrusted with selecting the players for the challenges next year, beginning with the Asian Champions Trophy in April, Azlan Shah Cup in June, Commonwealth Games in October and Asian Games in December.

What Malaysia needs is foreign expertise, be it in the likes of a coach or a Technical Director. So the sooner this is sourced, the better. But then again we have some MHF officials who seem to be keener on paper qualifications of these coaches when even their own qualifications have serious doubts.

But on the overall, the management team of the Malaysian Hockey Federation has to be more committed towards reversing the downward trend and restoring the sport to its former glories.

Hockey is big business, though to some its just business and MHF has to be commercially viable and competitive to make a success of the game. It is not only about developing talent but being successfully internationally. And on both counts, MHF has failed miserably.

MHF thus has to go back to its drawing board, if there is one to start with, to come up with a national plan to develop hockey, which is both transparent and honest in its operation.

Firstly MHF must recognise that this is no mean task and that it will need all the help they can get, as within MHF there is clearly a lack of direction. MHF needs corporate expertise to contribute to this cause and start treating all concerned as investors in the salvation of Malaysian hockey.

We have seen some lean years but recent signs have been positive, given the performances at Invercargill. However MHF must capitalise on this and make Malaysian hockey relevant again with help from all quarters.

An increasingly globalised world changes patterns. A lot of things that we are used to and have considered to be stable are challenged by new orders, structures and arrangements.

This reminds me of a saying – when you are not the lead dog in the pack, the scene never changes”.

So dare we hope for any changes for the better?


Games Played: 6

Won: 3 – Wales 2-1, Scotland 3-2, China 3-0

Drew: 1 – Austria 2-2

Lost: 2 – New Zealand 4-2, New Zealand 2-1

Circle Penetrations For: 106

Circle Penetrations Against: 116

Shots On Target For: 36

Shots On Target Against: 45

Shots Off Target For: 25

Shots Off Target Against: 35

Goals Scored: 13

Goals Conceded: 11

Penalty Corners Awarded: 12

Penalty Corner Goals: 5

Penalty Corners Conceded: 29

Penalty Corner Goals Conceded: 6

Green Cards: 13

Yellow Cards: 3