AUSTRALIAN Neil Hawgood was finally accepted as a consultant, and will assist chief coach Tai Beng Hai in the Singapore World League Round Two on Jan 17-25.
However, the National Sports Council (NSC) told Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) to hold their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and clean up their messy constitution before they can talk further about hiring Hawgood on a full-time basis.
Hawgood's previous attachment was with the India women's team from July 2012, and under him, India won bronze in the 17th Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea, while the junior team won a first-ever bronze medal in the 2013 World Cup.
Yesterday, MHC vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad met NSC director general Datuk Ahamad Shapawi to iron out the coach as well as constitution issues.
MHC messed up their constitutional amendments at the Extraordinary General Meeting (EOGM) last year, and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) have offered suggestions on how to tighten it.
"The NSC have agreed to the appointment of Hawgood as consultant for the World League but we need to rectify some issues in our amended constitution before they proceed with the next step of offering him a coaching contract," said Nur Azmi Ahmad.
Beng Hai welcomed the news, even though its an 11th hour appointment as the team leave for Singapore today.
"Finally there is some concrete news about a foreign coach with the help of the NSC. I welcome the appointment of Hawgood as consultant as every little help matters in a tournament of this nature," said Beng Hai.
Malaysia have Oman (22nd), Ukraine (24th) and Singapore (36th) for company in Group A. In Group B are Japan (14th), Poland, (18th), Bangladesh (30th) and Mexico (35th).
The top-three teams in Singapore will advance to the World League Semi-finals at either Argentina or Belgium where tickets to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics await.
Malaysia are arranging for a friendly in Singapore on Thursday: "All the players are injury free and ready for the tournament," said Beng Hai as he tries to steer Malaysia to the top of the podium.
For the record, Malaysia has a spartan record of winning an FIH tournament as their only gold was won when Stephen van Huizen coached the nation at a Paris Five-Nation.
Van Huizen is now assistant to Beng Hai.
And then there was the near miss at the 2009 World Cup Qualifier in Invercargill, New Zealand, where Malaysia won silver. Then, Malaysia took the lead, only to lose 2-1 and hand the New Delhi World Cup ticket to New Zealand.