Thursday, 31 July 2014 | MYT 8:44 PM
Hockey: New Zealand thrash Malaysia 6-1 (updated)
Malaysia’s Mohd Hassan (right) dribbles past New Zealand defenders during the Commonwealth Games hockey match at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre on Thursday. — AFP
GLASGOW: National coach K. Dharmaraj has come out fighting on a day his men surrendered meekly – again – by going down 6-1 to New Zealand as they wrapped up their disastrous hockey campaign in the Commonwealth Games at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre.
The Malaysians, who began their Group B campaign on a winning note – beating Canada 2-0 – have lost their last three matches.
First, they were whipped 8-1 by England, and then – in the mother of all shocks – lost 4-2 to the unheralded Trinidad and Tobago team. And on Thursday, they capitulated again – to the Kiwis.
But it is the unexpected and embarrassing loss to Trinidad that rankles the most as almost everyone back home took a swipe at the team – and Dharmaraj, in particular.
After vowing to stay mum in the aftermath of the Trinidad defeat, Dharmaraj on Thursday decided to answer his critics.
And he came out with guns blazing.
“Trinidad and Tobago are not a ‘chicken’ team. We were down 3-0 and the boys chased hard to come back,” he said on Thursday.
“They have a world class ‘drag flicker’ in the team. Trinidad and Tobago even forced six penalty corners against Canada, who were made to struggle.
“The people must understand that we have come with a mixed set of players – 10 boys from the Junior World Cup squad. They have to be realistic. I could have taken the easy way out and brought all my seniors.
“But the seniors have played in two back-to-back tournaments and are burnt out.
“It is sad to be slammed like this when I’m just trying to help build the national team for the future.
“This is my first tournament. No ordinary man can handle this type of pressure and I’m on the verge of cracking and falling into depression.”
Asked if there was disharmony in the team, Dharmaraj replied that “we are one big family”.
He also reminded the critics that Malaysian hockey standard is “not where you think it is”.
“We have not made it, yet. Let’s not give people this false hope – we are not good enough, yet,” said Dharmaraj.
“Yes, we finished fourth in the Junior World Cup and, after 12 years, were back in the World Cup. But where was Malaysian hockey all this while?
“We all tend to assume that Malaysia are a great team when, in actual fact, we are not.”
Asked if he was prepared to be replaced for the Asian Games in Incheon in September, Dharmaraj said: “It is not an issue with me”.
“It is up to them (the National Sports Council) to decide. I was brought in to help the national team. I will do so even if I am asked to assist a new coach or even go back down to the development programmes,” he said.
Those are brave words indeed for someone who is probably living on borrowed time, especially after another heavy defeat to New Zealand.
The Kiwis started the rout as early as in the fourth minute through Andy Hayward.
Their others goals were scored by Bradley Shaw (29th), Nick Haig (42nd), Hugo Inglis (45th), Hayward (48th) and Shea McAleese (49th).
Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim scored Malaysia’s consolation goal in the 59th minute.
Canada, Malaysia and Trinidad all finished with three points. But Canada ended up third and Malaysia fourth on goal difference.
New Zealand (12 points) and England (nine points) go through to the semi-finals.
Malaysia will play in the classification matches for the seventh-eighth placing against Scotland on Friday.