The heading is a phrase often used by astronauts when contacting NASA base station at Houston. And I tweaked it a bit as I try sending a message to HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, President of MHF/MHC with regards to the national hockey team. As critical as I am with regards to methods employed by the national coaches, at times we have to tell things as we see it.
Malaysia lost their second successive match against China, this time going down 1-4 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
They had lost the first match 1-2 yesterday and China lead the five match series 2-0 with another three to play, the next being this Sunday.
To be honest the players look dis-interested and dis-jointed, hardly looking like a side capable of ending a 12 year wait for the Olympics.
There is something obviously wrong with the team as they lacked the desire to win matches, playing as it it was just a practice match against a local club side. It was not a case of wrong tactics employed by the coaches, but just that the players were lacking in spirit.
China looked more hungry, playing cohesively as a team, working and encouraging one another while the Malaysians looked as if their mind was not in the match at all, playing as if the result does not matter.
Mind you Malaysia, as so strongly advocated by certain quarters of MHF/MHC are 13 ranked in the world while China are three spots behind. So just basing on that fact alone we had no business losing 1-4 to China, our most heaviest defeat against this opponents for as so long as I can remember.
Goalkeeper S. Kumar was a big let down in between the goalposts and that has been the case since the Champions Challenge in Johannesburg. By his own admission his form has dropped over the past two months and he was not shy to admit that he needed help.
"I am lacking in confidence and frankly need coaching in certain aspects. Some sessions with a goalkeeping expert could help me gain my confidence bac. And I do hope that my wish can be granted. I do not want to let the team down but I admit that I have not been playing well with my confidence at an all time low," conceded Kumar after letting in four soft goals by his standards over the course of the two matches.
The problem with the Malaysian team is obvious, the players do not do any of their own thinking on the pitch. It was the same case in Johannesburg and it is repeating itself again in the matches against China.
While the coaches and the support team work on fitness, tactics and style of play, it is the players that ought to have the desire to win matches. And am sorry to say this, but MHF/MHC is at fault for they have been continously rewarding mediocre performances, the last being giving the playerts RM2,000 for a fifth place finish at the Champions Challenge.
It is time to regroup, to look at the target objectively as we try to end our barren run in trying to make it to the Olympics. It has been 12 years since we last played at Olympics, and we cannot just afford another 4 years in oblivion.
We sat out of the World Cup for 16 years from 1982 to 1998 and we do not want a 16 year wait to be carried into the Olympics as well