Monday, August 11, 2014

Musical Chair pause for Arul...

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.

Dharma out, Arul Selvaraj in...

PIC: Arul Selvaraj to replace Dharmaraj (right) who had taken over from Paul Revingtion (left).

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) held an emergency meeting yesterday, and decided to sideline coach K. Dharmaraj from the Asian Games which will be held in Incheon, South Korea from Sept 19 to Oct 4.
    In his shoes, MHC has placed Arul Selvaraj as interim coach, while Tai Beng Hai will be the manager cum assistant coach.
   A gold medal at the Asian Games is a direct entry into the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and the MHC have set Arul a target of playing in the final.
   “After reading the World Cup review committee report, as well as watching the Commonwealth Games performance, I called for a special council meeting and it was decided that we replace Dharmaraj with Arul as interim coach, while Tai Beng Hai will be the manager as well as assistant coach (until an assistant coach is named),” said MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
   Malaysia, under coach Dharmaraj, ended as the Dirty Dozen out of 12 teams in the World Cup without a single win or draw to show.
   While at the Commonwealth Games, the team hit another low when they were beaten 4-2 by Trinidad and Tobago, who scored their first win at the Games since hockey was introduced in 1998 at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
   “This decision was taken based on result, as well as the team’s performance. But I would like to thank Dharmaraj, as he was pushed into this position when (Paul) Revington resigned.
   “Dharmaraj took up the challenge, but we did not do well in both the tournaments. The World Cup review committee report has stated many factors which led to Malaysia performing badly at the Hague, and without going into details, the step to replace the coach is among the remedies to move forward,” said Tengku Abdullah.
   While Tengku Abdullah said the report will not be made public as it contains many issues penned down by players in anonymous questionnaires, it was reliably learnt that player-power was among the reasons why Malaysia did badly at the World Cup as well as the Commonwealth Games.
    “I will have a chat with the players after this, and warn them to buck up. They must have the drive to play for the country, and in these days leading to the Asian Games if they do not show unity and commitment, Malaysia will pull out of the Asian Games, and I am serious about this,” warned Tengku Abdullah.
    “Lets all forget about any animosity or problems, and work together for the sake of the country. And we will decide what to do with Dharmaraj at a later date, as right now, planning for the Asian Games is of utmost importance.
   “He (Dharmaraj) has received a show-cause letter (for his outburst in FaceBook, and he has replied. We will consider at a later date if it warrants a Disciplinary Board referral,” said Tengku Abdullah.
   Dharmaraj had hit out at MHC officials on FB, just before heading to Scotland, by saying that they live on trees or caves and that’s why they do not understand why Malaysia ended last at the World Cup.