IF the alarms bells in the corridors of the Malaysian Hockey Federation were not ringing before, they should after the Junior Asia Cup in Hyderabad, India.
Forget the 3-1 defeat to Japan or the failure to qualify for the semi-finals for such is the state of the Malaysian game now is that we can’t even beat Singapore.
What makes the 2-2 draw even worse is that Singapore were subsequently whipped 5-1 by Oman to finish last in the eight-team tournament.
Yes, Malaysia were represented by an Under-20 squad but we shouldn’t forget that previously, this wasn’t a problem as the juniors were good enough to whip Singapore’s senior squad.
MHF coaching and development committee chairman C. Paramalingam has a reason for Singapore’s rise, if it can be called that. “Singapore have progressed well after competing in our Under-14, Under-16 and Razak Cup tournaments, while we are stuck in a quagmire,” said Paramalingam.
A meeting, said Paramalingam, will be held with chief coach V. Muraleedharan and his assistant K. Rajan upon their return to formulate strategies for next year’s Junior World Cup, which is being co-hosted by Malaysia and Singapore.
Muraleedharan has already attributed the poor showing in Hyderabad to “misfiring forwards, silly mistakes by defenders and players being physically not up to the mark.”
But these seem rather simplistic reasons and the question here is have the right players been selected? If yes, what is the future of hockey, especially when the likes of Singapore are now holding their own against Malaysian teams.
MHF has to address the issues sooner rather than later, especially as at the senior level, Malaysia are unlikely to rise in the near future.