Having made the World Cup after a 12 year hiatus, Malaysia has set a lowly target of finishing 10 in the tournament that will be held at The Hague from may 31 to June 15 next year.
The target was announced by Malaysian Hockey Confederation president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah after a meeting between principles office bearers of the MHC and the coaches of the various national teams at his office on Monday.
The target does not make sense despite the fact that Malaysia will be the lowest ranked team at the World Cup next year. The whole idea of setting targets is to ensure the team aims for a position that is higher then what they are and moving two steps will not help Malaysia’s cause when the world ranking are released after the World Cup.
By Malaysian standards the target is a lofty one and it looks as if the MHC and the coaching team are playing it safe by setting the 10th position as something they will be satisfied with.
In order to achieve the said target, Malaysia can lose all its preliminary round matches and only need to win the classification match in the 9th-12 position playoffs.
This defeatist attitude will surely receive flak from many and already questions are being raised as to why we need to have an elaborate training program as such a lowly position can be achieved with winning one 70 minutes match.
Korea and India are two teams that Malaysia has done well against of late in international hockey and can be beaten. The same applies for the likes of England, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa and Argentina and really Malaysia should have a fair chance against them.
The big four of international hockey currently are Germany, Australia, Holland and upcoming Belgium, and these are the teams that we might not be able to match at the World Cup.
Besides the 1975 World Cup, our best showing was the 8th place in Kuala Lumpur in 2002 but that should not stop us from setting a more reasonable target of finishing in the 5th – 8thplacing. And in order to do that Malaysia needs to finish at least fourth in the group at the end of the preliminary round.
For the record even France, languishing in world hockey rankings of late finished 7th in two World cups – in 1971 and 1990.
Surely the time has come for Malaysia to stand up and be counted or rather we continue to be known as hosts of international tournaments.
Past World Cup Participation
1971- Barcelona – Did Not Qualify
1973 – Amstelveen – 11th Place
1975 – Kuala Lumpur – 4th place
1978 – Buenos Aries – 10th place
1982 – Bombay – 10th place
1986 – London – Did Not Qualify
1990 – Lahore – Did Not Qualify
1994 – Sydney – Did Not Qualify
1998 – Utrecht – 11th place
2002 – Kuala Lumpur – 8th place
2006 – Monchengladbach – Did Not Qualify
2010 - New Delhi - Did Not Qualify