Published: Monday December 23, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday December 23, 2013 MYT 11:44:42 AM

When will we rise again?

WE have forecasts of the Malaysian economic landscape dotting the news through various media outlets, but are there are any similar forecasts for Malaysian sports, in particular team sports and the reasons why we do not seem to be doing as well as in years past?

Countries that we used to match up well against in football during our heydays in the 70s, such as South Korea and Japan, now perennially make the World Cup, while we have difficulty qualifying for even the Asian tournament proper. (The U16 boys did very well recently in Laos by defeating South Korea 2-0.)

Do we have to wait till we become a high-income nation before we enjoy high-calibre sports teams?

Apparently, the wealthier the nation, the better the national teams are from those nations.

Just compare India with China and one can see how the world’s second largest economy, and an industrialised nation, collect around the same number of gold medals in the Olympics as the United States and Russia. India, for its population collected only one silver in the 2008 Olympics, if memory serves.

The recent SEA Games debacle, for instance, involving the football team is one example where I think the coaches and administrators live in a different reality than most folks who enjoy football, just as politicians tend to live in a different – or detached – reality from common folk.

Technically, our boys played with fluidity and passion, but individually, they were atrocious on one on one defensive tactics as they were turned around “360 degrees” by opposing attackers on numerous occasions by a number of teams.

On offence, while other teams tend to keep the ball on the ground, most notably Indonesia, our team tends to keep the ball on the ground in their defensive third and the middle third, but lofts it in the air searching for a target in the final third, making their attacks both too predictable and too hopeful.

The head coach said all the right things when he said that folks should blame him for the loss(es) because that is what coaches do at the highest levels; take responsibility when things don’t go their way and give credit to the players when things go their way.

This does not mean that he does not know what he is doing or that the players did not play hard.

Of course, he knows what he is doing and the players played hard. But it takes a lot more than hard work and emotion to do well at the world stage.

The best example would be the failure of the junior boy’s hockey team to grab third place at the World Championships after losing a heart-breaker to France, a match they probably should have won if they had listened more closely to their coaching staff, according to press reports.

The question I leave for readers is: Why did the Netherlands not “feel down” when playing for bronze or for that matter harkening back to about four decades ago, why did West Germany not “feel down” for playing for third place in the senior circuit in 1975 when they played Malaysia?

We need a more scientific, data-driven approach not just in sports, but in other fields as well, including governance in order to yield better results, consistently.



Kuala Lumpur

Tags / Keywords: Sport, Opinion, when will we world beaters


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