Comment by Jugjet Singh
NATIONAL hockey coach Paul Revington is said to have packed his bags, and is ready to make an exit by next week.
And if Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) officials fail to convince the South African to stay on until the Asia Cup in Ipoh on Aug 24-Sept 1, hockey will be in the limelight for another own goal.
But in attempting to convince Revington to stay, MHC should also keep in mind that it would be pointless to keep the coach if he has no more heart to lead the Malaysian players.
Revington did throw in the towel two weeks before the World League Semi-finals in Johor Baru, but after the intervention of no less than the sports minister himself, he decided to stay on and guided Malaysia to a fifth place finish.
And the indications were there in the press conference after Malaysia beat Japan in the playoff, as Revington was in no mood to discuss about the Asia Cup.
He bluntly said that he would not take any questions about the Asia Cup, which offers the champions direct entry into the World Cup next year.
That was very un-Revington, as the South African is normally very accommodating to the press.
Malaysia have lost a string of coaches before this, as Australian Terry Walsh, and Germans Volker Knapp and Paul Lissek came, trained, and left in a huff.
They lost heart, and if this is the case with Revington, he should also pack his bags and leave.
A good coach does make a big difference, as in the present state of hockey, all a team need is a slight edge in tactics to beat higher ranked teams.
Rankings were torn apart in Johor Baru when World No 10 Argentina held World No 1 Germany 1-1 in Group A, only to lose by 4-2 with two German goals scored in the last three minutes of the final.
However, World No 13 Malaysia were inconsistent, as fitness was not at the best and 60 per cent of the players, especially the strikers, were out of breath by the third match itself.
The Asia Cup is just weeks away, and not much can be done on fitness in the fasting month. But for the long term benefit of the sport, Malaysian players must venture abroad by the droves and play in much more competitive leagues than the Malaysia Hockey League.
The coach can only work with what he has, and at present Malaysia does not have much to offer other than a fighting side.
And a fighting side needs a fighting coach, not one who abandons them when faced with outside problems. Revington must fight with his nemeses, if any, and not throw in the towel yet again.
He is supposed to meet Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and after the meeting, if his heart is still with the players, he must forget about meddling outsiders and concentrate on the job at hand.
But if his heart is elsewhere, bon voyage Revington...