Comment By JUGJET SINGH
Pic: Malaysian goalkeeper S. Kumar did not fail to be named as the Best Goalkeeper for the seventh time in Invercargill.
MALAYSIA failed yet again to qualify for a major hockey tournament, but the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) is not going to fail in writing reports and making recommendations on what to do next.
And then, like always, there will be a failure to act on the reports and recommendations, making it a futile exercise.
The recent fall started after Malaysia ended 12th in the 2001 Junior World Cup in Tasmania, and many volumes were written with even a hockey blueprint coming into the picture but nothing came out of it.
The hockey loving public knows, but the MHF refuse to acknowledge, that the talent pool is fast drying up, and as a result, we did not have depth on the bench for coach Tai Beng Hai to select for Invercargill.
Twelve players from the 2005 Junior World Cup squad became regulars with the seniors, but only three were drafted from the recent Johor Baru Junior World Cup.
And in Invercargill, the 2005 batch held on well as Kelvinder Singh, Razie Rahim, S. Selvaraju, Jivan Mohan, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Shukri Mutalib, C. Baljit Singh, Fiqri Nabil and Khairulnizam Ibrahim played well and were the pillars in their departments.
(Only goalkeeper Khairulnizam did not get a chance to play as S. Kumar was in top flight).
But from the 2009 batch only Faizal Saari, Marhan Jalil and Ahmad Kazamirul were good enough to play alongside the seniors. Faizal scored three goals to justify his selection, while the other two warmed the bench.
So only one player, Faizal, who scored eight goals in the Junior World Cup, can be relied from the new crop. It is simple mathematics, which even the MHF should be able to understand.
Many are expected to bay for blood, and form a posse to remove coaches, players, officials, and the blame game might even hit the nutritionist right up to the cook who was in New Zealand.
They will fail to realise that the failure to qualify for New Delhi is a shared responsibility, because the MHF council members are the bigwigs in their states, and the rot started from their end.
The initial plan was to hire Beng Hai as an interim coach while the MHF look for a foreign coach to handle the reign. And when no foreigner with a credible reputation wanted anything to do with the erratic Malaysian players, Beng Hai was stuck with it.
The coach, a former international from Taiping, was in charge for the Azlan Shah Cup, the Asia Cup, the Champions Challenge II and the World Cup Qualifier.
A silver in Azlan Shah, fourth in Asia Cup, fourth in Champions Challenge II and second in the Qualifier is what Beng Hai achieved with the material that he had.
Lets face it, even with a foreigner, the results would not have changed much with the present batch of players.
The MHF will review Beng Hai’s performance for the year and they might even hire a foreign coach to prepare Malaysia for the 2012 Olympics qualifier.
But hiring a foreigner will not be easy, as nobody wants to coach a bunch of losers. So, stick to the other option that was discussed in January -- bring in top coaches on an ad-hoc basis to sharpen the strikers, the defenders, and the goal keepers.
Keep the local as chief coach, and seriously start grooming the 2013 Project squad by sending them to play in Europe leagues.
The next assignments are the 2010 Commonwealth and Asian Games.
Built on the failure, and stop writing reports, as nothing is going to come out of them but more failures like what happened after the 2004 Olympic Qualifiers in Madrid, the 2006 World Cup Qualifiers in China and the 2008 Olympic Qualifiers in Japan -- to name a few..