Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Despite a rather insipid performance by the national hockey team in their group matches at the Champions Challenge 1 at Johannesburg, they are expected to bounce back and defeat thge high riding Indians in the last eight clash on Thursday.

It may be wishful thinking to many, especially with the fact that Malaysia has been performing poorly in all three matches they played, losing to Canada (1-3) and Argentina (2-5) with only a draw against Japan (2-2) giving them some vindication.

And going by statistics, Malaysia have played India 98 times since their first meeting on 4th June 1932 where Malaysia was hammered 7-0.

It took Malaysia some 44 years to inflict defeat on India, and that occurred on 17 November 1976 in Lahore, Pakistan where Malaysia won 2-1.

Of the 98 matches, Malaysia lost 67, with 18 matches drawn and Malaysia winning only 13 of the clashes. In terms of goals Malaysia has scored 102 against their opponents but conceded 233 goals.

And additionally, the two teams met only twice this year with India winning 5-2 in the match at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup while their match in the AHF Champions Trophy in Ordos this September ended in a 2-2 draw.

So why the optimism on a Malaysian win when the odds based on history are stacked so highly against Malaysia?

In order to understand that one needs to go back to the eventful night of September 19, 1998, the venue being the Commonwealth Games and the semis of the hockey event.

Malaysia defied all odds to win that match 1-0 and move into the final of the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

Since that win, Malaysia and India have played a total of 34 times with India winning 17 matches, 9 ending in draws and Malaysia winning eight of the clashes.

The number of matches Malaysia won may be less then half of the Indian victories, but the Malaysian wins were registered in crucial tournaments.

One does not have to go far but turn the clock to a year ago for it was at the Asian Games in Ghuanzhou that Malaysia dashed the Indian hopes of making the London 2012 Olympics by winning the semis match 4-3 on golden goal.

Malaysia also defeated India 3-2 at the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, a match many of us will not forget as Malaysia raced to a 3-0 lead.

And last year at the Azlan Shah Cup, Malaysia had comprehensively defeated India 5-2.
All this points to one thing, that Malaysian players do not fear playing India, especially in knockout matches as they are mentally psyched up and are optimistic of when facing the once former Asian giants.

The Malaysian players must just out there onto the pitch and play their normal firebrand hockey, taking the game to the opponents rather then let them come out and dictate play.

And if the players are confident, then at the end of the 70 minutes, Malaysian flags will fly high in Johannesburg and some officials here will take the credit as well. But then again who cares what these attention seekers do, for Malaysian Hockey is what matters.