COMMENT By Jugjet Singh
IN A game of musical chairs, Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah pressed the pause button again yesterday, and seated Arul Selvaraj onto the hockey hot-seat.
For Tengku Abdullah was left with no choice as a group of senior players played to the tune of Rihanna’s Russian Roulette and blew Malaysia’s proud tradition in hockey into shreds at the World Cup and then Commonwealth Games.
Player-power, as well as bickering officials, saw South African Paul Revington make a hasty exit after taking Malaysia to a fifth-finish in the World League Semi-finals in Johor Baru -- which was enough to warrant a seat in the World Cup.
And then the music stopped for Dharmaraj as he was asked to dance to a new tune at the Azlan Shah Cup, the Champions Challenge 1, the World Cup and then the Commonwealth Games.
But Dharmaraj’s style of handling issues among players, which were plenty during the four tournaments, was not music to the ears of some, and they took it upon themselves to destroy hockey in the country.
And the three-chair musical game, is now left with a single stool, on which the MHC have placed Arul Selvaraj on, for a kamikaze mission to Incheon, South Korea.
For everybody knows, that he needs to re-build a team inside of 40 days, with fitness the main bane, and it could turn out to be another nightmare.
For the record Arul, a former national player, went abroad to learn coaching and in South Africa he found Paul Revington as assisted him. And when Revington moved to Ireland, Arul followed as assistant, and then Revington was hired by Malaysia and bingo! Arul was back home as a package deal.
And when Revington threw in the Malaysian towel, Arul was left out in the cold, and juniors Coach-of-the-Year for 2013 Dharmaraj was made the seniors coach.
Arul was ‘demoted’ to training the 2016 Junior World Cup team.
The messy affair has now boomeranged, and Arul on the hot seat, while the MHC mull on what to do with Dharmaraj who has a contract until 2016.
The story is still in mid-play as Dharmaraj wished Arul all the best -- with an “I’ll be back”.
“I am all for Malaysia, not for myself, as I wish Arul all the best and hope the players give their best and win a medal at the Asian Games.
“This is about hockey and not Dharmaraj, as I take a rest and maybe head to Europe and learn the trade from the best, as I will be back to help the country in the near future. I say thank you to MHC, especially the president, who has helped me in various ways when I was coaching,” said Dharmaraj.
As for Arul: “I accept the post as a challenge, and even though I only have about 40 days to prepare the team for the Asian Games, I know the players well and will make a fast selection and release those not in need to play in the Razak Cup for their states.
“Hopefully, we can settle issues and work on fitness and make an impact in the Asian Games,” said Arul.
And even before Arul could warm his hot-seat, the music started playing for the interim-coach as well, because the MHC president also announced yesterday that they are in the hunt for a foreign coach.
And when asked about the time-frame? Tengku Abdullah said “As soon as possible.”
He then pressed the imaginary play button on his way out of the Press conference for Arul and “Another One Bites The Dust” blasted out from the speakers of the MHC musical chair Coach Opera.