Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Numbers don't add up

By S.S. Dhaliwal

That is the question Stephen van Huizen would have kept asking himself last night after the national team lost 3-2 to India in their opening match of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games at the Dayan Chand Hockey Stadium.
Not because that Malaysia led twice, nor for the fact that Malaysia lost the game in the closing stages of the match, which has become a pain since the last two decades, but more so if registering two goalkeepers for a tournament was a good choice.
For the record Malaysia has S. Kumar and Roslan Jamaluddin in the 16 players listed for the Commonwealth Games, but India and Australia have only listed one goalkeeper in their team.
A calculated risk? Well it paid dividends for India as so far as the match last night was concerned, a matter that was not at all overlooked by Stephen in assesing his teams performance in the match.
India had four players that could be used as substitutes, while Malaysia had three and the telling pace of the match eventually got to the Malaysians as they wilted under the humid conditions and the fanatical support for the Indians.
"I am happy with the performance but not the result. A draw would have been a fairer result but when we cannot hold a lead, not once but twice, then we have to pay a price. And tonight it was a heavy price though as really we created enough chanches to win." said Stephen.
"I have been thinking of this one goalkeeper thing and really it is something we ought to start considering but the risks are great.
"Maybe it is time FIH come out with a ruling, that teams can replace a goalkeeper should the registered keeper suffer from an injury that is certified. And it will be a one way process, that the first keeper cannot be brought back into the team.
"It is food for though as the pace of hockey has increased and an additional player will help the team."
Not withstanding that though, Stephen admitted that Malaysia lacked depth on the bench as opposed to their opponents.
"We have options such as Kelvinder and Jivan back home but they must put an effort and get fit in order to be considered."
To be fair, Malaysia played well and there was pin drop silence when they scored twice. But India pulled of an escape act and all their three goals could have been avoided had there been better concentration on the part of the Malaysians.