Thursday, August 25, 2016

MHL from Jan- March! At the expense of national team!

It was announced last month that the Malaysian Hockey League will be held between January and March for the next three years.

This was done supposedly to give teams ample notice to prepare for the MHL as in the past the dates were never fixed.

As a result the MHL ended up being a tournament that was run for 6 to 8 weeks despite it being the premier Hockey tournament in the country.

However the grand plan may have already hit a snag as obviously no one took into account the FIH calendar when making the decision and announcement

This is because the World League round 2, which Malaysia will play in, is scheduled from March 25 to April 2 at Tunapuna , in Trinidad & Tobago.

Four teams have already been identified - hosts Trinidad & Tobago, Russia, Japan and Malaysia.

And just to jolt the memories of some, Trinidad & Tobago defeated us at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

For those who may not realise the significance and importance of world rankings, teams in the 1-11 bracket move into the semi final stages of the World League directly without playing Round 2.

There will be three Round 2 World Leagues with the first 3 in each tournament moving to the semi final of the World League.

So now we have the MHL from January to March, or it was assumed to be, when will the national team prepare itself?

Also with the women's team involved in the World League from 14-22 January, there is no possibility of the Women's National League being held earlier as well.

The teams competing in the Round 2 of the Women World League are Fiji, Ireland, Italy, Kazakstan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and a yet to be confirmed country.

Another issue that arises is the fate of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which traditionally is held in the first 15 days in April.

This obviously has to be moved to May, thus putting another spanner in the works when it comes to determining dates for the MHL next year.

With the World League semis slated for June ( only one venue identified thus 
far , London from 15-25 June) the MHL will once again be moved.

In August is the SEA Games and from October 21 to 29, the 8th Asia Cup will be held, which is the final opportunity to seal a place in the 2018 World Cup.

Effectively the national team has a packed schedule from January till October, assuming we qualify from the Round 2 of the World League.

Failure to make the semis means a last shot of making the 2018 World Cup via the Asia Cup.

Since there are so many experts that rubbish rd this blogs suggestion to hold the MHL from November this year till January next year, it will be interesting to see the stop  gap measures being put in place to hold the MHL longer then the 6-8 week period that has been the case for the past few years.