Monday, April 1, 2019

Azlan Shah Cup: Pressure turned them into bronze...

By Jugjet Singh

IPOH: Pressure turns charcoal into diamond, and so some 'inspirational words' from Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal turned a losing side into bronze medalists.
  After winning against Poland and Japan, Malaysia took a slide when they were beaten by South Korea and India and lost a chance to play in the Azlan Shah Cup final.
  Subahan did not mince his words, or his disappointment, when he lambasted the players and officials, saying that the MHC had given them everything possible and its payback-time.
  After the South Korea and India defeats, Subahan had said: "No more excuses, no more statistics to back up a defeat, no more 'we played well but lost'.
  "I don't want to hear all this from the coach (Roelant Oltmans) when we play in the Series Finals in KL.
  "I want results. And it should start on Friday when we play Canada, and again on Saturday if both teams qualify for the bronze medal bracket," said Subahan.
  His prodding saw Malaysia beat Canada 3-2 and 4-2 to win a rare second bronze in the Cup.
  However, everybody expected Malaysia to play in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup, and the MHC even had hoped of finally breaking the gold medal jink since 1983.
  But it turned out to be just another tournament for the generous hosts, as South Korea claimed their third Azlan Shah Cup gold, India silver and Malaysia bronze.
  In the beginning, the hosts beat Poland and Asian Games champions Japan with easy, setting the fans salivating for a miracle.
  But this bunch cracked when it mattered most against India and South Korea, and this has been happening for ages.
  When Malaysia are under no pressure to deliver, they will even beat the best in any tournament, like they did against Canada in the last pool match.
  But when it matters most, the Malaysian team always falters.
  But inspired by the warning from Subahan, the failure script was thrown out of the window, and it became a success story, albeit on a smaller scale.
  Hopefully Mr President will be on their minds again when they start their pre-Olympic Qualifier, the FIH Series Finals in Kuala Lumpur on April 26 to May 4.
  The other teams in this pre-Olympic Qualifier are not big guns and Malaysia even has the advantage as hosts.
  Group A is made up of Canada, Austria, Wales and Belarus.
  Malaysia are in Group B with China, Brazil and Italy.
  An appearance in the final against Canada, and a possible gold medal by beating them for the third straight time, is what MHC and Malaysia needs going into the final Olympic Qualifier in November.