Monday, November 28, 2011

Mockery of a Goodwill Challenge

THE Champions Challenge I in South Africa is heading towards the history book as a mockery of a tournament, and suggestions have been put forward to change its name to Goodwill Challenge instead.
But at stake is an appearance in the Champions Trophy for the gold medallist, and that is no joke.
For how else can one explain the insignificance of the Group stages, as even if a team loses all three matches, they will still end up playing in the quarter-finals.
Malaysia lost to Canada 3-1, and drew 2-2 with Japan and their last match is against Argentina today.
And they can afford to fix their quarter-final match, as the champions in Group B play the last placed team in Group A, while the second placed team plays the third placed.
As it goes now, Malaysia have one point and a win against Argentina could see them placed in the second-third spot and they are likely to meet South Africa or Poland.
And if Malaysia want to play either India or Belgium in the quarter-finals, they should play to lose against Argentina today.
Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary Maninderjit Singh feels the FIH should have a re-look at the tournament format in future.
"The FIH should have a re-look at the mode of competition because teams are taking it easy in the group stages and and all matches are being played at below par as there is no bearing, and all have qualified for the quarter-finals," said Maninderjit.
He also said teams can choose and pick their opponents: "It also makes it easier for teams to choose and pick their quarter-finals opponents by adjusting their points accordingly.
"This does not reflect the name of the tournament, and it is now a Goodwill Challenge, as it all boils down to one quarter-finals match which would decide if a team finishes among the top-four, or bottom four of the tournament," lamented Maninderjit.
And reading from the two games Malaysia have played, it looks like coach Tai Beng Hai has placed all his eggs in one basket, and it could see Malaysia play India in the quarter-finals, provided we lose against Argentina today.
India should beat Poland and top the group, as the Belgium-South Africa match is more balanced -- if teams play to their true strength, and not try and fix their quarter-final opponents.
TUESDAY: Group A: India v Poland (9pm), Belgium v South Africa (11pm).
Group B: Canada v Japan (5pm), Malaysia v Argentina (7pm).
NOTE: Malaysian time.


P W D L F A Pts
Belgium 2 1 1 0 10 6 4
India 2 1 1 0 10 7 4
SAfrica 2 1 0 1 7 8 3
Poland 2 0 0 2 4 10 0


P W D L F A Pts
Argentina 2 1 1 0 5 4 4
Canada 2 1 0 1 5 4 3
Japan 2 0 2 0 4 4 2
Malaysia 2 0 1 1 3 5 1