CLOSE ENCOUNTER: This was how close was the South Korea-Ireland final. FIH pic..
HIGH TIME: Parent body must realise this if Malaysian game is to progress
THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) must come to terms that the current batch of hockey players need a better coaching set-up to win the next big assignment -- the Asia Cup in 2013.
The Asia Cup, whose venue has yet to be decided, is also the qualifier for the 2014 World Cup which will be held in the Netherlands.
MHC should realise that local coaches need a foreign consultant and must look away from our shores like India looked away from theirs and qualified to play in the Olympics.
No disrespect to the local coaches who handled the team in Dublin, but Tai Beng Hai and Nor Saiful definitely need help in certain areas to strengthen the team.
Most of the players will still be able to give their best, as they did in Dublin, but they need a foreign consultant or coach to take them to a higher level.
MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who is also the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) president, had said before the qualifier that that team need a foreign coach.
But MHC could not secure a good coach as the best were all tied down by contracts.
The failure in three straight qualifiers -- Madrid 2004, Kakamigahara 2008 and now in Dublin -- has made it much more difficult for Malaysia to wake up and play among hockey's elite.
However, all is not lost as the International Hockey Federation (FIH) plans to hold a series of world tournaments and scrap the tough qualifiers for the Olympics and World Cup.
Asia will be represented by South Korea, Pakistan and India in the Olympics, as Malaysia go back to the drawing board and hope the junior team make the cut for the World Cup by becoming champions in the Malacca Junior Asia Cup in May.
Tengku Abdullah has been extremely generous with funding to prepare this team for Dublin, giving them virtually everything they asked for, so it is only understandable that he got angry when the team failed to even make the final.
He left the University College Dublin in a foul mood after Malaysia drew 1-1 with Ireland and he then immediately flew home without watching the Malaysia-Russia match for third placing.
The MHC president has every right to be angry, but he accepted a hot-seat in 2008, knowing fully well that Malaysian hockey, more often than not, promises more than it delivers.
Meanwhile, South Korea snatched the Olympic Qualifiers gold medal from the Irish with only two seconds left, when Nam Yong Lee deflected home, at the University College Dublin grounds, to give his team a 3-2 win and a berth in the Olympics late on Sunday.
"It is good that three Asian teams have qualified for the Olympics, but it was very sad that Malaysia did not play in the final," said Korea coach Shin Seok Kyo.
"I watched the Ireland-Malaysia match on video to prepare for the final, and saw that one penalty corner which led to the Irish scoring, and one yellow card was unnecessarily flashed at Malaysia.
"That was the crucial moment which killed Malaysia's game."