Thursday, January 1, 2009

Beng Hai might have to stay longer

TAI Beng Hai officially became the interim coach today, but he should face no problems handling the players, as most of them were with him when he was the national juniors assistant coach in 2004.
A majority of the 2004 Rotterdam junior world cup players made the grade to the senior side, and Beng Hai knows them like the back of his hands.
“I see no problems with the players as I know their playing style, while they know me as they practically grew up with Sarjit Singh (former national coach) and I when we were preparing for Rotterdam,” said Beng Hai.
Beng Hai graduated as the juniors coach in 2006, when Sarjit was elevated to the seniors side, but he quit the post in October 2007 because of other commitments.
He came back as the women’s coach, but has accepted an offer to return to the men.
“I start training on Jan 5, and have recalled 30 players for training purposes. Only S. Kuhan and Jiwa Mohan are not on the list, while the rest are the same,” said Beng Hai.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) did not extend Sarjit Singh’s contract, which expired on Dec 31, and are now looking for a foreign coach to chart Malaysia’s future. Beng Hai has been named as an interim measure, but it looks like he might be ‘stuck’ with the job.
The Azlan Shah Cup is in April, while the Asia Cup in May, and the MHF have had no luck with the foreign coaches that they have approached.
“We are still looking for a suitable foreign coach but it wont be easy as our ream is ranked 15th in the world, while the targets are too close.
“We have to do well in the Asia Cup (which offers the gold medallist direct entry into the 2010 Delhi World Cup) and that is why we cant hurry and just hire any foreign coach,” said MHF deputy president Nur Azmi Ahmad.
MHF had looked towards South Korea, Australia and Europe for coaches, but all of them have prior commitments, and it is almost akin to scratching the barrel right now.

Problems await Beng Hai

THIS may not be the best way to start a new year but lazy players and a support system that is not producing quality second liners mean Malaysia can forget about qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

In fact, Malaysia may also have to forgo the London Olympics two years later is the frank assessment of a former international who has handled the national team in the past.
"Two problems have combined to become a major headache. The current batch of players take home between RM3,000 to RM6,000 monthly, depending on their status.
"Money from the National Sports Council (NSC) and clubs or employers, combined with no challengers for their national team positions have led to many (of them) becoming complacent," said the former coach who declined to be identified.
But he knows what he is talking about as he has first hand experience with the players.
"So, in training, they do not give 100 per cent, as they know that they will be selected anyway, and this attitude is carried onto the pitch when they play in a tournament.
"This 'tidak apa' attitude has taken out the competitive edge in training as well as tournaments, and that is why we had to come from behind to draw 4-4 against Italy in the Japan Olympics Qualifier (last year)."
"Too much of the night life has also taken its toll on players and giving them a break can be a nightmare as they will report back unfit.
"I am not against players enjoying themselves, as it is good to de-stress, but there are a few who over-indulge and come for training looking sleepy and disinterested."
The coach said the problem is common knowledge in the hockey fraternity.
"The hockey circle knows about these problems, but all efforts to eradicate them have been futile thus far.
"I want to highlight these problems again, not to bring disrepute to anyone, but for the new MHF (Malaysian Hockey Federation) regime and whoever is appointed as the next coach to be wary abut the pitfalls."
The disparity between the seniors and juniors, according to him, was glaring in the Malaysia Hockey League.
"The seniors (Ernst & Young) won both titles this year, but were given a fight till the end by a team made up of former internationals (Sapura).
"This shows that there is not much progress in the new batch, as they should have won comfortably against players who are now quite portly and slow.
"The national juniors couldn't even match the former internationals so what hope is there?

"And this problem will only become bigger in the next few years as there is very little talent in the juniors to be drafted into the senior side, and qualifying for the London Olympics will be very difficult."
Tai Beng Hai, who assumes the caretaker coach position today, probably knows all this but imagine the shock that, when MHF hires him, awaits the foreign coach.