Sometime in February, the National Sports Council Director General Dato Zolkples Embong went on record to say that Malaysian hockey will secure the services of former Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans in May, in time for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
However the Malaysian Hockey Federation opted to keep quiet and the Deputy President Nur Azmi Ahmad started re-writing the script as he told the media that MHF were still in discussions with Oltmans and some other foreign coaches, so in a way he denied the statement made by Zolkples, stopping short of calling the NSC DG a liar.
Moving forward to March, and Nur Azmi was part of the delegation that went to New Delhi for the World Cup to discuss terms with Oltmans. And upon his return Azmi went on record to say that Oltmans will, if the terms are agreed upon, will report for duty on June 1.
Effectively Oltmans, it is learnt, will be in Ipoh during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, expenses paid for by MHF, to witness the tournament and asses the Malaysian team. So there you have it, the script as written by the MHF Deputy President.
Now lets look at things in a different perspective. Oltmans will have barely five months to whip our team into potential gold medalists for the 2010 Asian Games which will assure us of a place in the 2012 London Olympics. Failing which Malaysia would have to go through the qualifiers which most likely will be held in the first quarter of 2012.
Meaning at a rate of RM50,000 per month, Malaysia will have to fork out something in the region of RM1.1 million in terms of salary, minus other perks to have in place a coach who will take us to a qualifier, something others have done in the past.
Another perspective is what will MHF do if the current coaches, Stephen van Huizen and Tai Beng Hai take Malaysia to the champions spot in the Azlan Shah Cup, something Malaysia has failed to do, be it with local or foreign coaches. What will MHF do then? Still get Olmans on board or this time decide that Malaysians are better suited for the job?
The entire planning is in shambles as the national team last played an international match at Invercargill in November last year. That is almost six months without any international match for a team that aspires to win gold in China later this year.
It is not impossible though as Malaysian players can raise their game as evident by the 2002 Busan Asian Games team that went on to win the bronze medal despite many players calling it quits after the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
So the million dollar question, since that is what we could end up coughing should we fail to make it to London, will most likely be answered at the MHF Council Meeting scheduled to be held at 2.00pm on April 3 in Kuala Lumpur.
And after which hopefully the MHF Deputy President will stop his 18 month drama of getting a foreign coach, something he messed up in the first place in Bangkok in December 2008.