TOP of the world, with sound development plans. FIH Pic/ Stanislas Brochier.
AFTER two days of action in the Melbourne Champions Trophy, hosts Australia have shown to the world what systematic development, and playing in the Dutch League can achieve.
The Aussies blasted South Korea 4-0 and then went on a 7- 2 rampage against the Netherlands. England Germany and Spain are next on their warpath, and if they enter the final unbeaten, Australia will be difficult to stop in the New Delhi World Cup as well.
The top six teams of the world are involved in the Cham pions Trophy, and these are the teams which Champions Challenge I cast Argentina, New Zealand, Pakistan and hosts India need to beat if they want to play in the semi-finals of the New Delhi World Cup in February.
And where does that leave 16th ranked Malaysia? We are fourth in the Champions Challenge II, which show-casts Japan, France, Austria, Chile, Russia, Poland and Ireland.
Development is on an ad-hoc basis, and the schools have forsaken sports for studies, while State HA’s are angry that whatever talent they produce, is shanghaied to the Bandar Penawar and Bukit Jalil Sports Schools.
And it looks like studying in the two Sports Schools is going to be a yardstick for hockey players to don national colours in the near future. The trend is already there, as the majority of our national under-18 players are from BJSS.
Malaysia played a series of matches with the Australians before the New Zealand World Cup Qualifier, and even won 1- 0 once only to be blasted in the other matches.
Australia were, then, not with their best, as six of their top players were in action in the Dutch League. And the amazing part is that just after five weeks of playing together, the senior, juniors and the six from the Dutch League are clicking so well in the Champions Trophy.
This is a result of playing the same style from school, clubs, age-group teams, right up to the national seniors.
Australia were also the semi-finals in the Junior World Cup, and this goes to show that they will be among the top four for years to come.
The same can’t be said about Malaysia, who have had an Australian coach in Terry Walsh, and Germans Volker Knapp and Paul Lissek but instead of moving up, and now in the Champions Challenge II group.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) will announce their foreign coach, if they secure one, on December 13, and lets hope he can work with the rojak system in this country as next year, the Azlan Shah Cup, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the Asian Champions Trophy awaits the poor chap.