By Aftar Singh
GLASGOW: National hockey coach K. Dharmaraj is as good as a “dead man walking”.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) coaching committee chairman Manjit Singh Abdullah wants Dharmaraj sacked after the national team’s woeful performance in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The national team had, before heading for Glasgow, finished last in the 12-team World Cup in The Hague, Holland.
They began their Commonwealth Games Group B campaign with a 2-0 win over Canada but it proved to be just a temporary respite.
In their second match, the Malaysians were handed an 8-1 thrashing by England.
Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back as Malaysia suffered a humiliating 4-2 loss to minnows Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday, followed by another heavy loss – 6-1 to New Zealand on Thursday.
The loss to world No. 29 Trinidad was the worst ever for world No. 13 Malaysia.
It was the tiny Caribbean nation hockey team’s first win in the Games since making their debut in Manchester in 2002.
As much as Manjit wants Dharmaraj booted out, MHC senior vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad reasoned that it’s not as easy as that.
“Although Manjit wants Dharmaraj sacked, we cannot simply terminate his services,” said Azmi in a telephone interview on Friday.
“We have to study the two-year contract he signed in May just before the national team left for the World Cup in Holland.
“We will get our lawyers to study the contract and see if there’s any clause that says we can sack him without paying any compensation.
“We will have a meeting soon with MHC president Tengku Abdullah (Sultan Ahmad Shah) to discuss Dharmaraj’s future.
“During that meeting, we will also study the national team’s World Cup report.”
Nur Azmi admitted that the loss to unheralded Trinidad was unacceptable.
“We cannot stomach the humiliating defeat. It is really demoralising to MHC and the nation.
“We will meet Dharmaraj next week to find out the reasons for the team’s failure in the Games.”
Asked if there is a plot among the players to undermine Dharmaraj, Azmi said that he too had heard such talk.
“We need to talk with the players to know if they are indeed unhappy with Dharmaraj,” he said.
Dharmaraj was appointed national coach in January when South African Paul Revington resigned.
On Thursday, Dharmaraj hit out at his critics for condemning him and the team after their loss to Trinidad.
He had said: “We all tend to assume that Malaysia are a great team when, in actual fact, we are not.”